Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Hey, Teacher ! Leave Us Kids Alone !

I meant to blog about the decline in school meals take-up a couple of days ago but got diverted onto other things. Still, better late than never.

The number of school meals being served in secondary schools has dropped by 20% in the last two years. Why ? Because by introducing nationwide "healthy eating" propaganda and denuding meals of popular food, the government has been doing what it always does - telling people what to do. Entirely predictably, the consumers (in this case school children) have been voting with their feet.

When "Healthy Eating" was first imposed on our schoolchildren, we heard stories of parents pushing culinary alternatives through the railings and of kids nipping down the local chippy at lunch time. And things haven't got any better.

According to such luminaries and Jamie Oliver and Lord Adonis the fall in numbers is just a blip. Inevitably the Liberals don't get it either. In the words of their schools spokesman "The new standards for healthier school meals have been introduced too quickly, too inflexibly, and with too little education of pupils and parents". Ah, so we're absolutely right in telling people how to run their lives, we just haven't "educated" them well enough. What arrogant, high-handed, Stalinist rubbish.

Listen very carefully, I will say this only once. (Actually I'll probably say it time and again over the next few months). People do not like having their choice and freedom restricted. People do not like being told what to do. People do not like being nannied. When it happens, they tend to do the opposite of what they've been told. Try to force healthy eating on kids, and they'll resist. And their parents will probably support them.

Governments know nothing about marketing. They tend to use legislation instead (Gods knows this one certainly does). If they really want to change behaviour over eating, they should engage with the private sector and find out how to run a decent advertising campaign based on decent products. Better still, they should leave us all alone to get on with our lives. If we all die of heart disease, that's up to us.

By the way, what of my own children's experiences of healthy eating in their school ? On the first day of the new regime, they're all given the hard word about sugar, fats and obesity; Mars Bars are impounded; kids go hungry. Then what do they see ? Their own form-teacher scoffing chocolate cake in the middle of Numeracy !

Which just goes to show; Nanny really does know best.

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