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Committee wants Department to ban vending machines in schools

The Department of Education is facing calls to ban vending machines in schools.

The Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs met today to discuss tackling childhood obesity.

Early intervention was highlighted as essential to teach young people how to make healthy eating decisions throughout their life.

Fianna Fail's Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte, thinks that monitoring children's weight needs to be done in a more normalised school setting.

Ms Rabbitte said: "I think we should be normalising what we are doing as opposed to taking it away in that particular setting, but I do think we need to start gathering data.

"The best way of gathering data, if we are talking about the earlier sector, we've a 97% take-up in the ECCE. Surely we should be starting at the first point of entry.

"That should be with the GP, but there should be a mechanism for continuing it on."

When it comes to tackling obesity among older children, it was revealed that 27% of secondary schools are said to have a vending machine on site.

While the Department of Education said they would support any school who wished to oppose a fast foot outlet opening near them, they have no intention of banning vending machines.

Chair of the Committee Senator Catherine Noone said that's not good enough.

She said: "There are so many opportunities for children to get junk food. Really and truly, there should be a directive on this from the department."