Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Healthy eating lessons on the menu

From next year all pupils in primary schools will learn the principles of healthy eating

Primary school children are to be taught about the importance of healthy eating while older pupils will be shown how to cook under new Government proposals to cut down on obesity in youngsters.

The move follows recommendations from restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent's School Food Plan which encourages healthy eating.

Previously, only primary schools had to give basic lessons about food preparation and hygiene while in secondary schools it was only a design and technology option with no requirement to teach pupils about nutrition.

From next year all pupils in primary schools will learn the principles of healthy eating, where food comes from and basic cooking techniques, while in secondary schools at Key Stage 3 it will be compulsory for students to learn about nutrition, having a balanced diet and be taught cooking techniques as well as how to cook various dishes.

Dimbleby, who co-founded restaurant chain Leon with Vincent, said: "I am delighted that the Department for Education has listened to us and the many others who were calling for cooking to get such a strong emphasis in the new National Curriculum. Obesity and diet-related illnesses are major issues facing this country - as big a challenge in their way as poor education.

"We have simply carried the baton the last few metres taking on the great work that has been done by the Children's Food Trust, Food For Life, School Food Matters, Jamie Oliver and many, many others both supporting schools and working in them.

"Our work on the curriculum is just a small part of our overall School Food Plan, which we hope will radically improve what is eaten in schools and how food is woven into school life."

Vincent said: "We have been adamant that knowing how to cook should be an entitlement for every child in school. And we've been equally determined that the curriculum ensures kids can cook a wholesome range of savoury main meals that they will enjoy, and which will improve their lives and those of their children in the future.

"We promised a School Food Plan based on action and on quick wins. This big step forward will show people that we are fulfilling that promise. There's a lot more to come."

The Department of Health estimates that diet related ill health costs the NHS approximately £6 billion a year. England now has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, with 60% of adults and one third of children overweight or obese, according to Government statistics from 2011.

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