Healthier food drive for 'school gate' shops in Scotland

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Media captionThe campaign was launched at Eastbank Academy in Glasgow

Small shops and grocers near Scottish schools are to be encouraged to offer healthier food choices for children.

It forms part of a new initiative aims to get children to eat more healthily in school across Scotland.

Research suggests more than half of secondary pupils buy lunch outside school at least once a week.

Schools will also be given advice on how to encourage children to stay on site as part of the Beyond the School Gates scheme.

Teenage years

Shops and convenience stores will be given tips on increasing the sales of non-junk food.

Councils will even be told how to use licensing and planning rules to encourage healthier options near schools.

The Beyond The School Gate initiative has the backing of the local authority organisation Cosla and the Scottish Grocers' Federation.

Image caption Schools are offering healthier meals but pupils often head beyond the gates

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson will officially launch the scheme in Glasgow.

He said: "We have made excellent progress in improving the standard and nutrition of school meals in Scotland.

"However, the evidence shows that many children are simply not staying to eat these meals.

"We are fighting a battle against obesity in Scotland, and we know that if children eat unhealthily in their teenage years it's a habit that can be hard to break.

"This initiative looks at how we can encourage children to choose healthier options both inside and outside school."

He added: "This government has already made a major commitment to children's diets by extending free school meals to primary 1 to 3 children from January 2015 and launched new guidance on school food earlier this year.

"Through Beyond the School Gates we aim to enable children to continue that healthy eating into their teenage years."

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