## Monday, 10 September 2012

### Domino effect

I had quickly read something about this on the papers earlier today, and tonight I saw the episode of Dispatches, presenting the "school dinner scandal". There are several points that were raised by the documentary which are really, really interesting.

Perhaps the most striking is the story about the UK Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove. (In my very personal opinion, by just looking at the guy or listening to him talk, you can immediately see that he is a massive, massive Dickensian!).

Anyway, one of his policies involved exempting Academy Schools from nutritional standards (introduced by the last government, as Dispatches reports), promising that standards would not deteriorate. Well, the evidence seems to point decisively against the opposite conclusion with previously banned products such as junk/fast food and sugar-filled fizzy drinks, being reintroduced in school dinners.

On a separate note, it seems that fast food chains, eg Domino's Pizza, are increasingly seeking to open branches around schools, "luring" kids into getting their food from them, instead of from the supposedly healthy school canteens. (Of course, don't even get me started on this and I can't stress enough my utter disgust at such fake pizzas. On the other hand, of course Domino's are not the problem $-$ but certainly they're part of it, in my opinion). As it turns out, the note is not so separate, and this links back nicely to the Secretary of State who seems to have received donations of almost £50,000 from shareholders in Domino’s.

Last week I went to a seminar where the researcher presented preliminary results from Ten Top Tips (TTT), a study whose aim is to encourage life style changes to take in fewer calories through food and burn more calories through activity. Of course the problem is about the food culture, particularly in a country like Britain. Perhaps kids should be taught better so as to avoid them being "lured" in fast foods and interventions like TTT may just do the job (most certainly on a small scale, but still...).

But may be this is not the only kind of intervention; for example, New Zealand and Canada are (have) planning (effected) bans on junk food advertising, seemingly with positive effects. After all, similar strategies have been applied for smoking, which we know causes all sorts of problems: why shouldn't we try this for other things that we also know cause all sorts of problems?