SCHOOLS CAN play a big role in fighting obesity, and not just by controlling the sale of junk food, says the Farmers Union of Wales.

“Many children no longer learn basic food skills as part of the national curriculum and the time for action is overdue,” claimed Rhian Nowell-Phillips, the union‘s senior policy officer.

Responding to a select committee report that said obesity costs £3.7m a year in England alone, and is set to kill more people than smoking, the union wants the re-introduction of basic school cookery lessons.

“For a number of years we have highlighted the fact that early education in food preparation, nutrition and food hygiene are vital skills for later life, and for public health in general.”

She added that if a properly drafted food technology syllabus was introduced it would both fight the flab and teach children about the value of fresh wholesome ingredients.

The FUW, which has also campaigned for school canteens to buy local produce whenever possible, insists that attacking the food industry and advertisers is not enough.

The government must shoulder its responsibility to encourage healthy eating habits and the development of skill in the preparation of nutritionally balanced meals, it says.

Ms Nowell-Phillips said the select committee has called for cookery lessons and a positive response is vital.