Europe's schools should think about removing vending machines packed with savoury or sugary snacks and offer fruit and vegetables to students instead, an internal European Commission document said.
In recommendations accompanying plans for an EU-wide scheme to finance handouts of fruit and vegetables, Commission experts suggested that such "competing foods" be taken off school premises to encourage healthy eating habits in schoolchildren.
"The removal of competing foods, in particular in vending machines, in the school environment -- savoury and sugary snacks and sweetened drinks -- is recommended," the document said.
"In turn, a replacement with vending machines with fruit and vegetables could be recommended," it said. Convenience and processed foods should also be eaten in moderation as they might contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, it added.
The recommendations do not form part of the Commission's formal plan to create a school fruit scheme but should "be taken into account" by ministers during their negotiations and were also conditions for "successful implementation" of the scheme.
In a blueprint due to be published on July 8 and reported by Reuters earlier this week, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel would earmark 90 million euros ($138.9 million) a year in funding for the EU-wide scheme.
If EU agriculture ministers agree, Fischer Boel's funding scheme would enter into effect in the 2009/2010 school year.
Each country would match the amount of cash it gets from Brussels, although economically poorer regions would be given special status with 75 percent of the cost paid by EU money. Countries could top up the cash spent on their national schemes.
One of the main aims is to halt an alarming trend in obesity around the EU, particularly among children. Up to 27 percent of men and 38 percent of women in Europe are now regarded as obese.
For 2006, the Commission estimates daily EU fruit and vegetable consumption at an average 380 grams per person, below the World Health Organization's recommendation of 400 grams. Only eight of the EU's 27 countries reach that minimum standard.
Greece has by far the highest daily intake of fruit and vegetables, then Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Denmark; France and the Netherlands just about reach 400 grams. The worst country is Slovakia with about 200 grams in daily consumption.
Another Commission recommendation was for the WHO's 400 gram consumption target to be met by schools including 150 grams of fruit, 250 of vegetables and no more than 100 millilitres of pure fruit juice in what they offered to children and students.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Haziran 2008, 08:32