The sale of unhealthy foods such as chocolates and doughnuts will be outlawed under new guidelines for ACT (Australia Capital Territory) government schools, reflecting similar moves in the rest of the country.
The Victorian Government for example announced last month that soft drinks would no longer be sold in government schools by 2007.
This move was welcomed by both the Victorian arms of Diabetes Australia and The Cancer Council, which nonetheless want to see the ban widened to other unhealthy products.
There are also initiatives underway to ensure that schools sell fruit every day and reduce sales of cakes and confectionery.
Approximately 10 per cent of Australian children were overweight or obese in 1985 but this figure has risen to around 30 per cent in 2005, according to official statistics. And experts estimate that by 2025 nearly half of all children will be overweight or obese.
Obesity significantly raises the risk of serious conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Vending machine sales of confectionery and soft drinks have been targeted in other parts of the developed world. In March, the UK government launched a consultation on standards for food sold in schools following recommendations from the School Food Trust that called for a ban on confectionery and snacks.
The School Food Trust, which drew up draft standards to prevent childhood obesity spiralling out of control and to improve children's health, recommended among other things that no confectionery should be sold in schools.
Within Europe, France has also banned all vending machines in schools, while in the US, the American Beverages Association, backed by PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, recently introduced a voluntary ban on all drinks except water and 100 per cent juice in elementary schools, and all full-calorie soft drinks in middle schools.
The World Health Organisation says that 22m children under 5-years-old are obese worldwide, while the number of obese children aged between six and 17 has more than doubled in the last 40 years.