Leicester East MP Keith Vaz asks schools to ban sugar

School dinner
Image caption Mr Vaz wants all Leicester schools to stop using sugar in school meals

An East Midlands MP wants all schools in Leicester to ban sugar in its meals and vending machines.

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has written to the city council asking it to become the first in the country to run sugar-free canteens.

Mr Vaz said: "I think it is very important people understand that sugar is not good for their health."

Assistant mayor Vi Dempster said there was "always more that can be done" to reduce sugar in school meals.

Mr Vaz, a Labour MP and chairman of the Home Affairs committee, said: "We have sugar available quite freely in drinks and food in our schools and with the obesity rates that we have got it is very important that we act immediately.

"In the average vending machine, you will see hundreds of teaspoons of sugar masquerading as cans of drinks and sweets."

'War on sugar'

Mr Vaz, who has diabetes, said it made "economic sense" to ban sugar as it would "save a lot of money" treating people with obesity and type two diabetes.

Ms Dempster added: "I agree with Keith. It is an incredibly important issue, not just in terms of obesity and diabetes but also children's behaviour in the classroom and dental decay.

"I think it is reasonable to ban fizzy drinks and sweets but there is a lot of work already being done in schools and there is a lot more that can be done."

In 2010, a Surrey school banned students from drinking high-caffeine energy drinks.

Mr Vaz asked David Cameron during Prime Minister's questions earlier in January to join him in the "war on sugar" by giving up sugar and sugary drinks for one day.

Mr Cameron said he would accept the challenge, adding: "If I possibly can".

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