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Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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Brake Backs Ban On Vending Machine Advertising

October 29, 2004 12:00 AM

At yesterday's Education Oral Questions, local MP Tom Brake reiterated his support for high quality school meals at school lunchtimes, but he challenged the Minister for Education to ensure healthy eating standards also apply during break times, when students are in search in snacks and drinks.

Teachers notice an adverse effect on pupils' behaviour when they eat foods high in sugar and artificial additives. In Scotland, arrangements are in place to remove advertising for junk food products from vending machines. In light of this, Mr Brake urged the Government to promote the provision of water during snack times instead of high sugar drinks in school vending machines and to extend the restriction on junk food branding in vending machines to England.

Mr Brake said, "Sutton schools have won awards for the excellent lunches they provide our youngest residents, but I am writing to local primary and secondary schools about promoting healthier options at snacktimes. A ban on junk food advertising on school vending machines and the provision of water as an alternative to high sugar drinks would ensure a healthier learning environment for our schoolchildren."

According to the Health Development Agency, 15% of 15 year olds and 8.5% of six year olds are classed as obese. Obesity is estimated to cost the UK up to £7.4 billion a year and will soon overtake tobacco as the single greatest cause of premature death.

Text of Mr Brake's Parliamentary Question (28 October):

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): What progress has been made on improving healthy eating in schools. [194096]

Tom Brake: On vending machines, the Minister will be aware that Mars and Coca-Cola cannot be advertised in vending machines in Scotland. Does the Minister plan to introduce a similar ban here?

Mr. Twigg: I understand that those companies volunteered to make that arrangement, and that they will do the same here. We want to ensure that healthy options are available through vending machines. Excellent examples exist of schools providing fruit juices, cereal bars and other such options in their vending machines, and some evidence suggests that children prefer to take those options, where those options are affordable.