Children consume half the daily recommended sugar intake before the morning school bell rings according to Public Health England (PHE).
Children in England consume more than 11g of sugar at breakfast time alone, almost 3 sugar cubes. The recommended daily maximum is no more than 5 cubes of sugar for 4- to 6-year-olds and no more than 6 cubes for 7- to 10-year-olds per day. By the end of the day, children consume more than three times these recommendations. More than 1 in 5 children start primary school overweight or obese, rising to more than a third by the time they leave.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist, Public Health England, said: “Children have far too much sugar, and a lot of it is before their first lesson of the day. It’s crucial for children to have a healthy breakfast, but we know the mornings in a busy household can be fraught.”
To help embed healthy behaviours early in life, more than 16,500 Change4Life Be Food Smart packs will be distributed to primary schools this January as part of their School Fruit & Veg Scheme delivery, along with parent packs for each pupil to take home to their parents. PHE’s new Change4Life Be Food Smart campaign places teachers in a central role to help parents and children make healthier food and drink choices at home.
These free, curriculum-linked resource packs will help teachers to deliver engaging healthy food lessons built around the English, Maths, Science and PSHE curricula, including assembly, classroom and whole-school teaching ideas. Schools can also run their own Be Food Smart campaign. Teachers will receive a pupil campaign pack, giving young people the tools to boost understanding about how food choices impact our health and how we can all make healthier choices.
Luke Thomas, Year 4 class teacher at The Flying Bull Academy in Portsmouth, said: “The lesson plans are an excellent introduction to help unearth children’s misconceptions about sugar.
“They offer teachers the opportunity to engage children in a range of activities that inform them about the issue of sugary food while giving them clear examples of how they can take action. They will be an essential addition to teachers’ lessons dealing with issues such as taking responsibility and making informed choices.”
A new Be Food Smart app has also been developed to highlight just how much sugar, saturated fat and salt can be found in everyday food and drink.
Tackling obesity is everyone’s responsibility, and schools have a vital role to play. PHE is currently working with retailers, food manufacturers and other organisations in the food industry to reduce the amount of sugar by 20% contained in products children consume.
Teachers can look out for the Be Food Smart packs which will be arriving in schools now. To find out more about the campaign and the resources available to schools, search for Change4Life/schools online or visit the website.