Free Markets, Free People

Scotland’s effort at top down healthy meals

Apparently the Scots, much like our government, have decided that Scottish children just don’t eat healthy enough meals.  So they’ve decided they’ll take the matter in hand via government and introduce their version of healthy eating in school.  After all it is “for the children” and who wouldn’t be for that?  Apparently the children:

NEW rules introduced to make school meals healthier have resulted in tens of thousands of Scottish pupils consuming a worse diet, it has been claimed.

The company which provides school meals in Glasgow revealed yesterday that 30,000 fewer children are eating school lunches since healthier meals were introduced.

Uptake of school meals in Glasgow has fallen from 61% to 2006 to 38%, with some schools as low as 24 per cent. Across Scotland, the number of secondary school pupils taking school meals fell to 39.2 per cent in 2009 – the lowest level for a decade.

Fergus Chambers, managing director of Cordia, which provides school meals in Glasgow, urged the Scottish Government to carry out a “root and branch” review of the regulations which limit salt, fat and sugar content.

He said: “The original objective of the legislation was to improve uptake and improve health.

“But I believe the most recent rules, which allow no flexibility to those providing school meals, have fallen victim to the law of unintended consequences.

The unintended consequence isn’t just that they don’t eat the school meal.  It is that they leave school during the lunch period and go to the nearest fast food franchise.

The answer to that?  Well certainly not improving the food.  Instead some schools have “experimented” with banning kids from leaving the grounds at lunchtime.  But consider changing the draconian rules that have them fleeing?  Of course not:

“Fat, salt and sugar levels are now set so low as to be almost non-existent. We can no longer sell diet drinks, flavoured water or even fruit juice of any reasonable portion size. Confectionery, including most home baking, is banned – yet pupils can walk out and buy anything they want.

Damn those students.  How dare they attempt to exercise their freedom to eat what they want.  Oh wait, here’s a solution – John Dickie, head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:

“It is clear that if local authorities and ministers are serious about boosting the take-up of healthy school lunches, then providing them free to all pupils is by far the most effective action they can take.”

Well there you go – just give it to them “free” and they’ll eat what they’ve already demonstrated they won’t eat .  What would we do without the advocates and experts.

Growing kids need a certain level of fat, salt and even sugar.  They’re not going to eat what they don’t like, no matter how “healthy” it is purported to be.  That’s something any parent can tell you.  When the state takes over those responsibilities and attempts to impose it’s ideas about healthy eating, these are the sorts of results you can expect.  The law of unintended consequences, as Fergus Chambers notes, couldn’t be more evident than in this case.

Coming to a “war on childhood obesity” near you soon.



11 Responses to Scotland’s effort at top down healthy meals

  • But this story does introduce the ultimate solution to the “war on childhood obesity” … food that nobody will eat.
    The only alternative is what we call at my house … “Magic Food” … it’s that stuff that you troll for at the supermarket … but never find.  It will satisfy your hunger but contains no calories … and it tastes great.

  • And here we have another reminder about why so many nations are struggling economically.  When a fast food restaurant makes changes that cause business to suffer, they must undo the changes or find other ways to get people to return, lest they lose so much money that they are forced to go out of business.  When government makes changes that lead to economic losses, they just take more money from tax payers to cover the losses.  They do not necessarily look to make changes that will be beneficial, including the decision to meddle less.  They slog on, figuring that they have a limitless pool of revenue upon which their mistakes can float.

  • The next two steps are:

    1) Banning “unhealthy” eateries within x miles of a school
    2) Banning kids from brown bagging it

    Then they HAVE to eat properly.

    • Good luck with #2.   I work at a school where ‘you vill eat granola and you vill like it’ rules came down from on high.  They were less draconian than the Scottish ones and we still have students bootlegging soda, chips, cookies, etc.  to sell to their classmates.  There’s a thriving black market in junk food (which warms the cockles of my free market heart).

    • Bingo!

      Call it the “Creeping Totalitarian” model:

      1.  Complain about a “crisis” to make people “aware” (“Hoot, mon!  Our wee bairns air as fa’ as a highland sheep!”)

      2.  Start “educating” people about why the crisis is bad and what ought to be done about it (“Ach, don’t yeh noo wha’ happens when yeh get too fa’?  Yeh need to eat less haggis and bashed neeps and mehr lawn clippins so yehr BMI is within healthy limits!”)

      3.  Suggest “voluntary” rules and regulations to combat the crisis (“Here’s a braw diet an’ menu plan fer ye to follow fer baitter health!”)

      4.  Make the rules and regulations mandatory (“Fer your braikfast, ye kin ha’ a half bowl o’ bonny oatmeal (wi’ nae sugar, mind!) and a’ the water ye kin drink!”)

      5.  Eliminate / criminalize any effort to avoid the rules / regulations (“Ef ye try to eat anythin’ other than wat’s on the bonny state approved diet plan, it’s tae th’ dungeon wi’ ye!”)

  • Jamie Oliver couldn’t do it, either.

  • I guess the vegetarian, lo-cal haggis didn’t go over too well.

  • I wonder if the kids walking to get their lunch would have ended up healthier due to the extra exercise they were getting.