Last September, pupils at Mason High School in Cincinnati, New York, were surprised to find a mysterious change to their vending machines.
Alongside the usual fizzy sweetened drinks, crisps and chocolate bars, stood a bright orange machine containing small, see-through packets similar to the kind crisps come in.
Instead of crisps, the packets contained crisp, peeled baby carrots with the slogan “Baby carrots. Eat ’em like junk food”. Within an hour, students all across the school were drifting about munching on their new brightly packaged snacks as if nothing had changed.
In the following weeks, the machine was emptied faster than the manufacturers could fill it, and a new era of healthy snack food was born.
In recent years, Britain has been under pressure from health food campaigners like Jamie Oliver who want to see drastic changes in government policy when it comes to food in schools.
Already a number of changes have been made in schools across the nation. Primary and secondary schools are banned from serving sugary drinks and confectionary in canteens or vending machines, processed food commercials have been banned from television channels aimed at children and all pupils aged between 4 and 6 are given a free piece of fresh fruit every day.
The healthy-eating storm has reached global fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Pepsi and Coca-Cola who have begun to remarket themselves as responsible, health and environmentally conscious companies.
Dr Mike Reyner, director of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, said: “There is some evidence to show that some things are improving in Britain. Fruit intakes are increasing, levels of awareness about diet have increased. But it’s not just about producing healthier foods within the snack or confectionary category. We have to get people to eat fewer snacks and less confectionary.”
If all it takes to get children to eat healthily is to package carrots like crisps, it seems to future of Britain’s children may lie in the hands of corporate food giants who, sadly enough, earn their money from our penchant for fatty foods.
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