Letter: Nutritional standards for children

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is very encouraging that the Government has acknowledged that poverty has a direct link to ill-health (report, 11 June). This is the first step towards tackling the real problem of health inequality in the UK.

Save the Children's recent report Out of the Frying Pan clearly demonstrated the problems families on a low income face feeding their children. The Government's announcement that national nutritional standards for school meals will be enforced is to be welcomed. This will help many low-income families who face a daily struggle to give their children a healthy diet.

A full assessment should now be carried out to determine the level of benefit required to provide a healthy diet. In the meantime, the introduction of "top-up" benefits would help to cover the cost of meals during the school holidays.

Tessa Jowell, the minister of public health, is right to pay attention to the effect of nutrition on children's health, and to acknowledge that it is only one area of concern. Many are suffering the cumulative effects of poor diet, bad housing, high incidence of accidents and infection and a greater risk of homelessness. A radical rethink of policy is necessary. This must be focused on children to prevent the effects of poverty from lasting a lifetime.

MIKE AARONSON

Director-General, Save the Children

London SE5

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