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Archive.

Urgent “call to action” for the review of school canteens



Dear Minister

There is an undeniable growing concern about the detrimental effects of sugar on the health of our children. The association between sugar intake and obesity, diabetes, dental caries and other adverse health effects are increasingly hard to ignore. In March 2014, the WHO released its Draft Guideline on Sugar intake for adults and children. They recommend that sugar intake be reduced to less than 5% of energy intake. In addition, the current Australian Dietary Guidelines released in 2013 recommend to “limit intake” of added sugars.

Children are a particularly vulnerable group in our society and the government has a specific duty of care with regard to their health and wellbeing while they are at school. Children are taught about the importance of good food and healthy eating as part of the education syllabus, however this is strangely contradicted by the types of foods endorsed by government for sale in school canteens.

Alarmingly, the current school canteen guidelines that exist across ALL Australian States and Territories DO NOT assess the sugar content of foods allowed for sale within schools. This is in DIRECT CONTRAST to the current Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendation to limit sugar intake as well as the recent WHO recommendation to reduce sugar intake to less than 5 per cent of energy. For children, this equates to about 3 teaspoons a day.

As a member of the Australian community, I believe that this is completely unacceptable.

I therefore support an urgent “call to action” for the review of all existing canteen guidelines across Australian States and Territories to include a specified limit to added sugar content as a criteria for foods sold in schools, with a view to dramatically reduce sugar intake amongst children.

Furthermore, I believe that the updated guidelines should be adopted under mandatory schemes that include monitoring and compliance campaigns to ensure adherence by individual schools.

The importance of reducing sugar intake in our society cannot be understated. The government has a key role in protecting our children from the harmful effects of sugar. Allowing school canteens to continue to sell sugary foods is failing our children in this regard. Your attention to this issue is required as a matter of urgency.

Sincerely,

Kieron Rooney and Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

  • jellybelly

    I managed a school canteen for 7 years. The first things to go were soft drinks and most of the lollies (I kept eucalyptus balls, carob buds and liquorice). Unfortunately I was in a constant battle with a LOT of parents who wanted their kids to have treats (as if they weren’t getting enough at home) and also the Health Canteen organisation which pushed edible food-like substances in the same way the Heart Foundation does. I’d really like to see national regulations which would reduce sugar in all canteens.

  • barbara

    I live close to a high school and all the children are buying their soft drinks and lollies at the local servo or newsagents and taking them to school. It is a good idea to restrict sugar in primary schools but i not sure it will be successful in high schools.

  • Cath

    Government needs to work with food industry to stop these products being available in the first place. If there are standards around levels of sugar in food products that manufacturers have to adhere to, then we can minimise the harm caused by these products by cutting it off at the source.

  • Carolyn Chisholm

    I think parents need to be educated first and foremost. In P&C meetings you will find the majority of parents opposing changes to canteen menus when you start talking about healthy food. So much ignorance out there. Healthy talk leaves one feeling like a lone wolf in the wilderness at these meetings.

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