08/09/2016 06:22 BST | Updated 08/09/2017 06:12 BST

Parents Are The Best Ones To Decide What Goes Into Packed Lunches

New research published in the last few days suggests less than 2% of children's packed lunches meet the government's nutritional standards.

We can offer an obvious explanation for this. The reason why less than 2% of packed lunches meet the government's nutritional standards is because parents have worked out what their children like and what they don't like for their lunch.

The 2% nutritional standard means that 100% of the packed lunches will be eaten. Surely that is better than achieving a 100% nutritional rate, and finding that just 2% of the packed lunches are eaten.

There is no point filling a packed lunch with nuts, lentils, and other 'nutritious' foods if children won't eat them. It may satisfy the health nannies and other obsessives, but it does not satisfy the appetites of children.

Obviously some children do like to have nutritious food for their packed lunch, but the majority of children would prefer food that actually tastes good.

In the US, schools (and pupils) are in open rebellion against Michelle Obama's federal healthy lunch program. Schools in California, Illinois, New York and Indiana are dropping out of the program. Why? Because children are refusing to eat the vegetables and low-fat choices on offer, making them hungry and too tired to learn.

And for anyone doubting this, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) were quoted saying 'In our lunch period observations in 7 of 17 schools, we saw many students throw away some or all of their fruits and vegetables'.

People against Sugar Tax looked at one US college which wisely dropped out of the healthy lunch program a year ago, and the numbers of students buying food from their canteen has gone up by 41% since. They are no longer forced to have vegetables with their meals, and are much happier as a result.

The college says that dropping out of the healthy lunch program has lost them money from federal government grants, but they say that the wider range of food now available to students is more important.

Chocolate and sugary drinks have been a normal part of childhood for decades. It is simply not natural for children to go without sugary treats during childhood.

Of course, we know that a small number of parents do need help and support to get their children to eat healthier, but punishing other parents and their children will not help one bit.

Thankfully, the new research did shine a spotlight on one of the most outrageous and extreme nanny state measures you will ever see - the inspection of children's packed lunches. First making headlines back in 2010, this complete over-reach by health nannies had almost become forgotten about - until now.

People against Sugar Tax have looked at several schools packed lunch policies in the last few days (yes these policies do exist), and they all ban sweets, sugary drinks and chocolate. Instead of sugary drinks at some of these schools, children are expected to drink water.

One or two schools hit the headlines a few years ago for removing sweets and chocolates from lunchboxes, but we've been unable to find any evidence of this being a widespread practice.

We've seen some vague references in some schools policies to send back to parents 'foods that are uneaten', but we're not sure if this is code for sending back sweets and chocolates or not.

And parents who repeatedly ignore these policies (by having the temerity to pack foods which their children actually like) are then sent a patronising and offensive letter by health nannies.

The question this does raise is what happens if parents still continue to rebel against these silly packed lunch policies even after the school has written to them. What possible sanctions could the school or health officials put in place on parents who refuse to adhere to the packed lunch policy?

What these packed lunch policies are basically saying is that parents are not able to make their own decisions about what goes in their children's lunch box. It is a classic example of a 'nanny knows best' policy. It is patronising, authoritarian, and absurd.

We believe that parents know best how to feed their children. Parents know what their children like to eat, and what they don't like to eat. The 'you must eat nutritious food' cranks need to give it a rest.