West Sussex County Council have announced that children heading back to primary school this September will have, on average, 65% less sugar in their school meals than three years ago, which equates to over 2kg per pupil per year.
A total of 30,000 children will benefit from the innovative sugar reduction programme, which has won a national Public Health England award.
Since WSCC first launched the scheme in October 2014, primary school children have seen their sugar intake gradually reduced from 18.5g to 6.6g per day by swapping out sugary items with fruit and yoghurts, reducing portion sizes and taking excess sugar out of recipes.
Amanda Jupp, County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: “As a parent, I know how hard it is to get children to eat healthily, especially in the world we live in now. Not having to worry about this when your child is having a meal at school, is excellent and something I am very proud we have been able to do as a council.
“Childhood obesity is still a serious concern, so we are hopeful this will make a difference alongside a range of other initiatives, such as our bikeability courses and other actions which came out of a recent Childhood Obesity Executive Task and Finish Group.”
Just over a fifth of West Sussex children in Reception, and over a third of children in Year 6, were classified as ‘above a healthy weight’ in 2015/16.
The sugar reduction programme has been delivered, at no extra cost, in collaboration with Chartwells, the County Council’s main primary school meals provider. In total, the amount of sugar that has been removed from meals, over a school year, is the equivalent weight of 5 double decker buses.
The approach to changes made to reduce sugar in school meals can also be replicated by parents and carers:
– Eat high sugar foods less often – replace with fruit and natural yoghurt as often as you can
– When you do eat sugary foods eat smaller portions
– When making puddings or cakes reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe
– Drink water or lower fat milk as an alternative to sugary drinks
– Use the Be Food Smart app to identify lower sugar alternatives
For more hints and tips on how to ‘Be Food Smart’ visit: www.nhs.uk/change4life. Download the ‘Be Food Smart’ app to find out how much sugar, saturated fat and salt is in your foods and get simple swaps to help you cut back on sugar in your kids food and drinks. Available free from the App Store or Google Play.
Parents who are in receipt of certain state benefits are also being encouraged to let the County Council know, as their child could be entitled to Free School Meals (FSM). Under the scheme, not only do children receive free school meals, but their school will also get extra funding.
For further information regarding FSM eligibility and to register online, visit: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/