As soon as that bell rings, kids scramble from their chairs in a frantic stampede of screams and excitement. The race to the front of the tuck shop has begun. The strongest runners are those who tactically sat themselves near the door, closely followed by the naturally quick kids and odds at 20/1 for the runners with extra pocket money this week. Fortunately, for the health of our future youth this tradition could be a thing of the past. A recent poll could put an end to any sweets and sugary drinks being permitted entry and sold in schools.
The poll, carried out on BBC 5Live’s Richard Bacon programme, concluded that two thirds of the 1,000 participants supported a ban on sugary drinks in all UK schools and academies. The poll also found that more than four out of ten would support a tax on sugary drinks.
Currently only healthy drinks and snacks can be sold in local authority-run schools, yet the decision of whether children can bring crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks into schools is up to the discretion of head teachers. However, neither of these rules apply for academies and free schools, which combined make up more than half of the state schools.
Under government policy, schools under local authority control can only supply drinks listed on a drinks table. Each drink should contain some sort of nutritional value, be friendly to teeth and the majority of drinks consumption should be angled towards water, milk or fruit and vegetable juices, which supply important nutrients like calcium, vitamin C and carotenoids. The 5Live poll suggests that the majority of adults want to see a stronger stance on sugar and see only healthy drink and snack options available in schools.
Despite the parental concerns, Dr. Alison Tedstone, a nutritionist at Public Health England, thinks we could avoid taking out all sugary foods and drinks from schools: “Actually academies from this year will have the same guidance around food as local authority run schools and so the majority of them are captured by this guidance.”
A spokesperson for industry body, the Food and Drink Federation, said: “The food and drink industry is committed to supporting improvements in public health. Whether through labelling, education, reformulating old favourites or creating new, healthier options, food and drink manufacturers have invested in a wide range of measures to empower and enable consumers to make food choices appropriate to their lifestyle.”
“Having eliminated artificial transfats and substantially reduced levels of saturated fat and salt in a wide range of products, many manufacturers are now looking at how they can help consumers to reduce their calorie intake through a wide range of innovative approaches.”
The drinks with the highest sugar content are as follows: Coca Cola, Fanta, Ribena, Lucozade, Red Bull, 7up and almost all flavoured fizzy carbonated drinks. If you are looking for healthy alternatives then simple and raw ingredients are the best.
Fruit juices can also carry a lot of unwanted additives. How about creating your own smoothie from natural fruits and milk, coconut milk or just water, and bottle it up in the fridge for your child to take to school for the week? Kids often find water needs a bit of sprucing up, adding a slice of lemon or even just ice cubes adds a little flavour or excitement.
What other productive changes would you like to see in the food and drinks available in school?