THE regional government hopes to combat childhood obesity by banishing sugary drinks and junk food from school vending machines.
Just over 30 per cent of the 0 to 16-year age group were found to be overweight in the last official study that was carried out in 2014. This showed that 18.6 per cent of Valencian Community minors were overweight and 11.8 per cent obese, with children aged between eight and 12 the worst-affected.
New regulations now being drafted by the regional Health department will limit what vending machines in the region’s schools, hospitals, health centres and social services centres may sell.
The offer will be restricted to bottled water, skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, diet drinks, fruit juice without added sugar, low-fat yoghurt without added sugar, wholemeal bread, fresh fruit, dried fruit and low-salt, non-fried nuts.
Other products outside these categories could be allowed but will have to comply with strict requirements on calories, saturated fats, trans fats and sugar.
Neighbouring Murcia has already introduced a similar plan to eliminate sugary drinks and industrial bakery products from hospital vending machines.
The Generalitat’s Health and Education departments are also keeping a watchful eye on state schools and more than 250 inspectors will control meals and vending machines at 1,400 dining rooms in the three provinces.