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New fast food outlets may be banned near Wrexham schools

Councillors in Wrexham are considering proposals to establish exclusion zones of 400m around local schools to prevent new fast food outlets from opening.

The planning constraint has been recommended to support efforts to tackle childhood obesity and improve eating habits.

Councillors are also advising schools to ensure that pupils are kept on site at lunchtime and encouraged to eat healthy schools dinners.

Under current rules the individual school is able to decide if pupils are allowed to leave site during lunchtime. However, with figures suggesting that 25% of the county’s school children are obese, the council is keen to encourage healthy eating habits.

A spokesman for the council explained that the proposed exclusion zone would only apply to new fast food outlets that are being proposed.

The council have acknowledged that they may need to exercise some degree of flexibility where fast food outlets are keen to secure town centre locations which may fall within the 400m exclusion zone.

The council believes that there has been a significant improvement in the food that is now provided in the county’s schools.

The council has worked with local health organisations to produce a new planning document which aims to guide new fast food outlets to the most appropriate sites.

These will be sites that balance the recognised need and benefits that these outlets can bring to shopping centres and communities, with the need to minimise the associated impacts such as public health issues, smells, parking and noise.

If the scheme is approved Councillors have said that they will refuse proposed new fast food outlets within the exclusion zone and will instead direct them towards the district and town centre shopping centres.

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Healthier School Dinners Linked To Improved Results

Delegates at a recent London conference celebrated the success of a project that has demonstrated the link between healthy school dinners, improved behaviour and academic achievement.

The Food For Life Partnership (FFLP) project was established to help promote healthier food for schoolchildren and also to connect them with the environment and the source of that food. So far the project has helped to transform almost 4,000 schools that have taken part.

One of the project’s greatest supporters is celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. He has been really encouraged by its success and believes that the evidence demonstrates what the best teachers already knew – that school meals and food education don’t just influence children’s health, it also aids concentrated and success at school.

The conference, which was jointly hosted by the Faculty of Public Health and the FFLP, heard evidence from an impartial evaluation by Cardiff University and the University of the West of England.

This demonstrated that;

  • The number of primary schools receiving an outstanding Ofsted rating more than doubled following their participation in the FFLP project. Head teachers also reported a beneficial impact on the attention, attainment and behaviour of pupils.
  • The proportion of children eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day increased following participation in the project. In addition, almost fifty percent of parents reported that family was eating more sustainable and healthier food.
  • The take-up of free school meals increased by thirteen percent in participating schools.
  • Almost seventy percent of school inspectors felt that the project had helped to support pupil’s wellbeing and personal development.

A spokeswoman for the FFLP explained that these findings prove that the project is not only helping to improve the diet of schoolchildren but it is also having a positive effect on attainment and behaviour.