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Dublin: 19°C Friday 19 August 2022

'Ireland in the throes of an obesity epidemic' as schools provide junk food to teenagers

One in five teenagers is obese or overweight.

Image: Shutterstock/Alliance

OVER HALF OF Irish secondary schools are offering unhealthy food and drinks to their students.

That’s according to a new survey carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation. It found 51% of schools provide food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt while 40% of schools didn’t provide free drinking water.

The survey of 39 post primary schools looked at the type and range of meals provided. It found that a quarter of schools had tuck shops and 47% had vending machines and 25% had a tuck shop.

Irish Heart Foundation Dietitian Sinead Shanley who undertook the research said:

Ireland is in the throes of an obesity epidemic as a nation and as many as one in five teenagers is obese or overweight.

“Yet despite calls to improve the availability of healthier foods in schools, our survey shows the opposite.”

shutterstock_2481892 Source: Shutterstock/haveseen

The survey also showed that while 37% of schools offered full hot meals and 37% offered cold snacks like sandwiches, nearly 70% of schools offered hot snacks including sausage rolls, pizza slices and paninis.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation, there is a ‘free for all’ approach to food provision at second level because unlike primary schools where policies exist, at post primary there is no national standard in this area.

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It wants to see a healthy food policy that doesn’t allow the sales of Top Shelf Foods from the Food Pyramid in schools and free drinking water in all schools.

An Ipsos MRBI poll for the Foundation found that the majority of Irish parents (52%) support a ban on the sale of sugary sweetened drinks in secondary schools.

So what do you think, Should unhealthy food and drinks be banned from secondary schools?

Poll Results:

Yes, it makes sense (2631)
No, teenagers should be able to make a choice (652)
I don't know (45)

Read: Senator turns anti-obesity crusade to school vending machines>


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