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Tricks of the food trade

Many young people do not know how to shop for healthy food and are easily tricked by food companies' marketing, Jane Davidson, minister for education and lifelong learning, said this week.

Schools need to teach young people how to make healthy choices when they start cooking and shopping as part of a three-pronged attack on child obesity, she told TES Cymru. Ms Davidson is considering changes to the curriculum to ensure it gives young people more information about buying and cooking healthy meals instead of the current emphasis on food technology.

"We need a generation who understands what healthy food is. Too many young people buy something in the supermarket that says low in fat without realising it is high in sugar.

"There is a concern about whether we give young people sufficient information on how to buy and cook healthy food," she said.

Childhood obesity has shot up the political agenda in the past 12 months as health professionals and MPs have warned it represents a public health risk as great as smoking did a generation ago.

About one in five children is overweight, three times more than 20 years ago. Researchers estimate that 8.5 per cent of six-year-olds and 15 per cent of 15-year-olds are obese, and on current trends half will be by 2020.

Ms Davidson's comments were made at the Labour party's annual conference in Brighton where she was promoting Welsh educational reforms.

They come in the week that food manufacturers announced they would stop selling "super-size" chocolate bars.

Ms Davidson said curriculum changes would build on efforts to promote healthy eating through school breakfast clubs, and will form part of wider guidance to ACCAC, the Welsh curriculum, qualifications and assessment authority, expected soon. School dinners should also reinforce the healthy eating message, she said.

Labour conference 16

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