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Pupils seek ban on sweets and burgers

Most children want unhealthy food banned from schools, a National Union of Teachers survey has found.

More than two thirds of 8 to 15-year-olds went further than the Government's new restrictions on snacks and meals in schools. Not only did they agree with the ban on crisps and sweets, but they also demanded an end to the sale of burgers, which are permitted on school menus once a fortnight.

More than half the 270 participating children also wanted a ban on the advertising of foods such as crisps, sweets and burgers on televsion. Almost three-quarters wanted a further restriction to prevent fast-food companies setting up websites that targeted children.

The union has called on the Government to ban the advertising of unhealthy food to children on TV and the internet.

Steve Sinnott, NUT general secretary, said food technology should be a compulsory part of the secondary curriculum. "There should be an integrated relationship between what is taught in schools and the food provided. Young people should be questioning what they eat, not just putting up with restrictions," he said.

Pupils were also questioned about other consumer pressures.

More than half of them had been bullied or knew someone who had been bullied because they did not have the latest products. And more than 70 per cent felt there was too much pressure on them to look perfect and wear the latest fashions.

* The Children's Food Campaign has attacked a last-minute change in the standards for drinks sold in school. The interim version of the standards permitted only "pure drinks", including water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, fruit juice and yoghurt drinks.

The revised version, in force from the start of this term, allows "combination drinks" which could include a limited range of additives and added sugar. Richard Watts, co-ordinator of the campaign, said: "Our children get enough sugar as it is, and it leads to dental and obesity problems."

Michael Nelson, head of research at the School Food Trust, said European regulations made a ban on combination drinks impossible, but the trust was working with manufacturers to develop a code to highlight the healthiest combination drinks.

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