School snack van ban proposed to tackle obesity

There are worries over child obesity in Inverness. Pic: Miran Rijavec

SNACK vans could be banned from outside hundreds of Scots schools in a bid to combat chronic obesity levels.

Highland councillors have demanded the crackdown after life expectancy in some areas dropped in to the 50s.

Poor diet is being blamed for many of the early deaths and supporters of the ban blame snack vans outside schools for encouraging bad eating habits among youngsters.

A council meeting heard yesterday from an NHS nutritionist who said one in four children in the Highlands is overweight or obese.

Concern about the issue is mounting across the country and Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns warned recently that many Scots were are risking premature death by ignoring healthy eating messages.

Councillor Hamish Wood is leading calls for the ban on snack vans outside schools.

He claimed parts of Inverness had life expectancy in the 50s.

Supporters of the proposed ban said the conditions of street traders’ licences could be altered to prevent them selling outside schools.

But the campaigners have been warned that the ban is unlikely to work because schoolchildren will simply leave school and make their way to wherever the vans set up.

“Trying to improve the quality of what they have outside of school is a better way forward,” suggested Councillor Bill Fernie at the meeting.

In December Scotland’s chief medical officer warned eight out of ten Scots were harming their health by ignoring healthy eating messages.

He said only 22% of Scots were meeting the recommended target of five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day.

A report from the British Heart Foundation last year found children in Scotland were more likely to eat crisps than fruit, and one in three were obese.