Fast Food near schools

Rebecca Todd in The Press reports:

Kiwi children are running the gauntlet of fast-food restaurants every day – with outlets five times more likely to be clustered around schools, research shows.

Who would have thought – fast food outlets are situated near customers. Shock horror. This must be stopped. Who would have thought that a shop would locate near 1,000 customers, rather than on remote rural roads.

The high number of burger joints and chip shops close to schools is thought to be a factor in the childhood- epidemic sweeping the Western world.

Or a lack of exercise, plus a failure of parents to provide school lunches. I was provided with a healthy lunch by my Mum almost every day, and was skinny as a rake at school (things changed alas later on). We did have a fish and chips shop opposite the school, and maybe every few weeks would buy from it – very useful on freezing cold days.

The problem has prompted the Secondary Principals Association to call for restrictions on what dairies near schools can sell during certain hours.

Oh yes. And let us have a legion of inspectors to swoop on dairy owners and arrest them for selling some wine gums at 11 am.

Mr Day studied the clustering of fast-food and convenience stores around schools in Lower Hutt, Wellington, Christchurch, North Shore and Waitakere. In poor areas, there were 24.5 fast-food and convenience stores per 1000 pupils within 800 metres of a school, compared with 9.7 in richer areas.

Now this is interesting. You would expect there to be more stores in richer areas, because there is more money available to be spent. You would think terribly expensive fast food would do badly in poorer areas, as families would be saving money by making their lunches at home.

If this is not the case, then target the real problem – bad parenting.

Secondary Principals Association president Patrick Walsh said many principals were concerned about the prevalence of fatty-food outlets near their schools.

“They work very hard to ensure that their canteens sell healthy food, but they know the dairy down the road is prepared to sell a can of Coke and pie for $2,” he said.

More like $4 I would say. And again, the cheapest lunch is one prepared at home.

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