Most urban schools are within easy walking distance of some sort of outlet that sells unhealthy food, be it a dairy or a fast-food joint.

That's been the way for as long as I can remember and it is not likely to change. It's part of life when you live in a city.

Having unhealthy food in close proximity to schools is not necessarily a problem either.

The idea of a "healthy food zone" around schools has recently been suggested but I agree with the principals and store owners who told reporter Dawn Picken in Saturday's Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that parenting was the key.


I walked past a dairy on my way to primary school every day but I was well aware that its offerings were a treat.

Every now and then, Mum would give us a couple of dollars to buy a pie for lunch or to get some lollies on the way home.

Like any kid, I looked forward to those days but they were few and far between.

At primary school, it really does all come down to parenting.

Primary school-aged children have no income apart from what their parents give them and, even then, parents have a large amount of control over what it is spent on.

It is at that age we need to be teaching our kids about what foods they should and should not be eating.

If we teach kids that fast-food, pies, cakes, lollies, chips and fizzy drink are foods we should only eat occasionally, it is likely to stick with them into adulthood. But parents have to back that up by making sure they are eating healthy food and making nutritious, home-cooked meals for their families.

Teaching children saving and budgeting skills may also flow over into what they eat as they get older and have disposable income. By teaching your kids to save their pocket money, they are less likely to spend all their cash on food as many teenagers these days seem to.

Aside from knowing it was not healthy to eat takeaways all the time, as a teenager I did not want to blow all my hard-earned money on food when I knew there was plenty to eat at home.

I'd splash out on takeaways with friends sometimes but as a rule it was, and remains, better for my wallet and my waistline to refrain from doing so too often.