Health experts in the United Kingdom are pushing for a ban to be placed on fast food deliveries at schools after it was found that 25% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 admitted to placing orders while on school grounds.
In a report by the Royal Society for Public Health, the Youth Health Movement, and Slimming World, teenagers were asked questions concerning the childhood obesity epidemic as well as their own habits and possible solutions for the problem. A small workshop was organized for 19 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19. Their ideas were there put into a survey which was taken by 570 schoolchildren and over 2,000 adults.
“Our childhood obesity rates are disappointing, and tackling this must be a priority for government – there can be no excuses for fudging action on what is our number one public health challenge,” said Shirley Cramer, the society’s chief executive.
Half of participating teenagers admitted to having ordered takeout with their smartphone, while another 25% said they had paid for fast food deliveries on school grounds. In addition, 48% blamed takeout options for obesity, with 42% saying they could reach a fast food restaurant within two minutes of leaving their school.
Results show that 50% of teenagers feel fast food deliveries should not be allowed on school grounds. In addition, four out of five participants suggested free fruit and vegetables should be handed out by grocery stores for children while their parents are shopping, and soft drink containers should be required to include information pertaining to the the number of teaspoons of sugar that are inside.
An overwhelming majority, 82%, said food manufacturers are misleading people by offering nutritional information by serving rather than for the entire product. One in three suggested the use of a classification system for foods that are high in salt, fat, or sugar, such as the one used by the film industry. Foods would be given a rating such as PG, 12, or 15, writes Andrew Gregory for The Mirror.
In addition, participants suggested the placement of free Wi-Fi in parks, as many said they frequented fast food establishments in order to take advantage of the internet connection.
Many of those surveyed said they would consider the use of a loyalty card that would offer points for healthy food choices.
The majority of parents surveyed, 74%, said that restrictions should be placed on the fast food restaurants that serve children during school hours, writes Sarah Boseley for The Guardian.
“This report gives a uniquely young person’s perspective on what steps can and should be taken, and while there is no silver bullet, young people are very clear what they think the causes of obesity are, and what action they would like to see from government and industry in particular,” said Cramer.
Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the number of children who are ordering from fast food restaurants is “cause for concern,” adding that schools need to be part of the solution, as the average child leaves school more overweight than when they began.
The report was released just prior to the UK Government’s childhood obesity strategy set to be published later this summer.