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A new study and the Government's own nutritional guidelines show that healthy food in schools is crucial to our children's health and learning, the Green Party said today.
"As soon as it was elected the Government dumped - for irrational ideological reasons - the healthy food standards that the Green Party had managed to get implemented," said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.
"This new study, reported in the New York Times, shows that banning unhealthy food and drinks in schools reduces obesity. The Health Ministry's nutritional guidelines released last week demonstrate the importance of healthy food to child achievement.
"The guidelines say under 18-year-olds should not be consuming energy drinks, and highlights how schools can be role models for healthy eating.
"The Government should reinstate the standards and help give our children the best start in life they can get. There is no good reason not to."
The guidelines say: 'Nearly half of 12-18 year olds get their lunch from the school canteen or tuck-shop. Encourage school boards to actively promote and sell healthy food and drinks through their canteens or tuck-shops.'
"Why not give schools some actual power to address the problem rather than tell them to improve the food on offer but give them no authority to do so?"
The study, published on Monday in Paediatrics, found adolescents in states which controlled what food could be sold in schools gained less weight over three years than those in states that did not.
"There is nothing to gain by sitting on our hands on this one and so much to win," said Mr Hague.
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