Currently the government recommends that the maximum daily (added) sugar intake should be no more than:
- 7 cubes for 11+ year olds
- 6 cubes for 7-10 year olds
- 5 cubes for 4-6 year olds
On average children are eating up to 3 times this amount and such over consumption increases the risk of health outcomes such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.
The school environment presents a substantial opportunity to positively influence food choice and reduce daily sugar consumption through simple changes that make the healthy choice the easy choice.
This checklist provides ideas of actions that can be implemented across the whole school to create an environment that is more Sugar Smart.
Promote and provide healthy lunches and snacks
- Review the current school food offer to make sure it adheres to the School Food Standards as a minimum.
- Create or update your school’s healthy lunch and snack policies.
- Rethink the way food is displayed in your canteen. Make the healthy option the easiest to access and make lower sugar options look appetising, for example you could cut up a variety of fruit to make fruit pots.
- Liaise with the catering staff and request that they review the menu aiming to reduce the sugar content of their recipes.
- Display signage about sugar content in meals and snacks – highlight sugar smart options.
- When using classroom rewards think of alternatives that are not sweet treats such as items of stationary or access to sporting activities.
- Introduce a rewards scheme where points are assigned to students that choose to eat fruit at break times instead of sugary cakes, chocolates and sweets.
Encourage water consumption
- Ensure that water is always freely available and visible during meal times and is encouraged as the drink of choice.
- Ban sugary drinks including energy drinks, sports drinks and milkshakes. If a complete ban is not realistic, consider how the products are advertised and displayed – make them less appealing options.
- Enforce a stay on site rule at break times and lunchtimes so children are unable to purchase drinks from vendors in the locality.
Raise awareness of Sugar Smart messages
- Make sure all members of staff are aware of the Sugar Smart message and are proactive in its promotion around the school. Ask staff to become Sugar Smart champions to coordinate activity for Sugar Smart September.
- Communicate with staff by holding a termly staff meeting to include head teacher, teachers, catering staff and support staff. This will allow the school to make sure everyone is on the same page and evaluate how successful any changes have been.
- Make sure all staff are aware of and able to access the resources available through Sugar Smart to support any actions they may wish to undertake.
- Make governors aware of the campaign through meetings and internal communications
- Getting the parent/carers involved is crucial! Write an article in the school newsletter explaining how your school is planning to be more Sugar Smart and invite parents to join the campaign and offer up any suggestions.
- Involve children in your campaign, for example ask them for their feedback and ideas.
- Hold a Sugar Smart event to introduce the campaign to the school. This could include a sugar reduction challenge such as giving up sugary drinks for a whole week.
- Giving the children responsibility of a project can improve their engagement with the campaign. This could include asking a class to prepare a Sugar Smart assembly to deliver to the rest of the school.
- Invite outside speakers into the school such as local chefs and dental practitioners to engage the children with the importance of sugar smart diets and oral health.
- Include the Sugar Smart message in any school events such as fetes and open days. For example, run a game where participants have to guess the sugar content of popular foods or organise a bake sale where all contributions are lower sugar recipes.
- On a termly basis choose a volunteer from each class to be a sugar monitor. This role could include making sure sugary rewards don’t leak back into the classroom, maintaining and updating a sugar smart notice board and meeting with the other monitors each month to discuss the success of and potential for any changes.
- Promote activity and Sugar Smart Devon messages and news via school’s social media channels.
- Promote healthier fundraising – replace cake sales with books sales or with ‘lower sugar’ bakes.
- Work with local retailers to encourage them to promote healthier food and drink options to students on the way to and from school.
Register Sugar Smart activity online
Register your school as a participant online to track your progress and gain access to resources for your campaign. The Sugar Smart website also provides sugar facts, case studies from within the campaign and all the resources you need to make your school Sugar Smart!
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