It seems that all eyes are on sugar at the moment.
First it was breakfast cereals, then energy drinks, then soft drinks. Now it’s time for school dinners to take the floor. The Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow wants excess sugar to be cut from school dinners, which means using healthier ingredients and ditching puddings.
Government Ministers are committed to tackling the issue.
Over the past 15 years or so, the Scottish government has taken small steps to make Scotland’s children healthier. Now they’re being urged to cut out the sugary snacks from school to combat tooth decay and obesity. At present, over one third of UK kids have tooth decay. Around 3 in 10 UK kids are overweight or obese. Government Ministers say they will “carefully consider” the response to a consultation on the matter and are committed to tackling the issue.
Passing up on Pudding.
The faculty would like to see desserts and puddings and sweet snacks removed from school lunch menus. They suggest replacing sweet treats with soup or fruit. The faculty would ideally like to see this rolled out across both primary and secondary schools. In addition, the faculty would also like diet drinks removed from schools. We know that ‘full-fat’ or ‘full-sugar’ options of drinks were removed from schools several years ago. Just because a drink is ‘diet’ or sugar-free doesn’t necessarily mean it is any healthier. Diet drinks can also cause erosion on teeth.
Accessibility Doesn’t Always Lead To Consumption.
However, Faculty Dean, Prof Graham Ogden acknowledged that increasing accessibility to healthier options doesn’t always mean higher levels of consumption.
For example, if you put a pudding and an apple in front of a child, they’re more than likely to go ahead and pick the pudding. If children are not interested in healthier school dinners, they will bring their own lunches from home. They will (if old enough and permitted by the school) leave the campus at lunch time to go and buy lunch from local food outlets.
It seems it is more of a case of educating and exciting kids about healthy foods, rather than going ahead and switching out their favourite meals for a plate of veggies and lean meats. Engaging the children will be the key to success here. Children who are not fortunate to be exposed to healthy meals at home may become disinterested. They may feel intimidated by new foods and opt to bring food from home instead. There is a fine line between having the kids on board about changes to their lunch time meal and kids feeling like they’re being stripped of tasty lunches!
Additional Steps to Better Oral Health in Children.
As well as making school dinners more healthy, the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow also want to ensure that children in schools have access to facilities that will allow them to brush their teeth after meals.
Will cutting out pudding really make a difference?
We’re not sure it will make an instant difference, but few small steps over time often make the biggest changes. If a small change will help reduce levels of child obesity, we’re all for it. If it will combat obesity, we’ll support it! Cutting out pudding is just the beginning! Eating healthy, balanced meals at home is important. Good oral health routines at home are important. NHS dentistry check ups are free for children until age 18. To register your child with an NHS dentist near you, visit www.defactodentists.com and search your location!