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Compulsory school cooking lessons: the solution to childhood obesity?

06 November 2012

Chef Jamie Oliver and England footballer Steven Gerard are just two of the celebrities that joined medical and nutrition experts in campaigning to David Cameron earlier this year urging him to make school cookery lessons compulsory for all children aged five to 14 to help fight childhood obesity.

Education secretary Michael Gove has been heavily criticised for failing to do enough to tackle obesity in schools and encourage good diet and exercise.

Cookery writer and judge on BBC series The Great British Bake Off commented in an interview with The Telegraph in July: “Cookery should be in schools. When everybody leaves school, whether boys or girls, what do they have to do in the home? Produce a meal. And they haven’t been taught to do it. It should be absolutely essential.”

Currently cooking is part of design and technology in the national curriculum which is compulsory in all maintained schools in key stages one to three (ages five to 14) however Gove’s determination to devolve more decisions to head teachers, could mean that some schools fall short of the recommended 24 hours of compulsory food and cooking education during a school year.

Whatever government decides, those head teachers that commit to the minimum 24 hours school cooking lessons and properly maintain their school teaching kitchens and equipment to aid learning are likely to significantly improve the health and wellbeing of their pupils. However food education goes beyond the school curriculum. Although legislation introduced by the Labour government to improve nutritional standards for school dinners had a positive effect, government is powerless to dictate the content of school packed lunches and what food children eat outside of school.

Far too many children are regularly given crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks as part of their packed lunch, so despite schools’ efforts to improve food education, parents must also take action to help in the fight against childhood obesity.

If your school teaching kitchens are in need of refurbishment to help improve the quality of cooking lessons in your school, contact us on 01843 604896.

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