'Ban school vending machines to combat obesity' - report
Vending machines selling unhealthy drinks and snacks should be banned from schools to help combat childhood obesity, the Oireachtas Education Committee recommends in a new report.
Unhealthy foods and drinks should also not be available for sale in school canteens/shops, the committee states. Almost one in three Irish children was overweight in 2016, and about one in 10 was deemed obese.
According to the committee, tackling obesity is not only the responsibility of parents, but schools must take more measures to promote healthy lifestyles and nutrition.
Other recommendations include the free availability of fresh drinking water in schools, greater access to physical education (PE) and, where possible, the protection of lands and green spaces for schools' use for sports and exercise.
Committee chair Fiona O'Loughlin TD said they were gravely concerned about the prevalence of childhood obesity and the potential for a future health epidemic.
She said the committee hoped its report would inform policy development in this area "and we look forward to seeing the implementation of some or all of our recommendations".
Vending machines are regarded as an important source of revenue and previous calls to have them banned have been ruled out.
Last year, Education Minister Richard Bruton said he had no intention of legislating on the issue, stating he had no authority "to dictate to schools in this manner".