Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Crisps Are a Human Right

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Crisps Are a Human Right

Article excerpt

It's healthy-eating week in our school. Everywhere I look there are children designing posters in praise of calcium and vegetables and boasting to each other that they've just eaten their first kiwi.

Our children seem pretty clued up on healthy eating. They know about fats and sugars, they can earnestly tell you why the body needs fruit and vegetables and why Coca-Cola is the devil's brew but, like their teachers, who can collectively demolish a tin of Quality Street in one break time, putting the theory to practical use doesn't come easily.

I don't always notice what my children are eating, but I got to check out the lunchboxes on a recent school trip. Some were very healthy, others markedly less so. One child had three packets of crisps and a cheese string, one had two chocolate bars and a piece of cold pizza, another had what looked like half of last night's kebab. Clearly, some parents were taking the message of healthy-eating week with an inadvisably large pinch of salt.

But persuading them to encourage good eating habits is fraught with difficulties. For some, food is the burning issue in education today. We can test their children to within an inch of their lives, cancelling school plays and PE lessons to make way for endless Sats revision and you don't hear a murmur, but ban crisps or sugary drinks and they're storming the gates, complaining that we're violating their child's human rights.

The last time we sent a reminder out that drink bottles should be filled only with water I got a furious phone call from a parent telling me we had no right to dictate what she gave her child to drink. …

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