Call for schools to scrap sugar from school lunches

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The London Assembly has called for all the capital’s schools to be sugar-free by 2022.


Some schools carry out packed-lunch audits to eliminate sugary food and drink

Under current School Food Standards set by the Department for Education, schools are allowed to serve desserts, cakes and biscuits at lunchtimes.

However, the report by the London Assembly’s Health Committee, highlighted examples of schools already volunteering to go sugar-free, including John Scurr Primary School in Tower Hamlets, which carried out a ‘packed lunch audit’, adopted a water-only policy, and sent new packed lunch guidance to parents, according to the report.

As a result, the school reported that its children had entirely eliminated sugary drinks, crisps and chocolate from their packed lunches.

The report, Child Dental Health: Keeping the tooth fairy away, was released as part of the London Assembly Health Committee’s drive to reduce tooth decay in young children, also recommended:

  • supervised brushing in schools
  • every child in London to see a dentist at least by age one
  • the mayor of London to appoint a specialist in children’s dental health to the Child Obesity Taskforce

Statistics quoted in the report include:

  • more than a quarter of children suffer from tooth decay by the age of five
  • bad dental health affects some areas of London worse than others, with 14 per cent of five year olds in Bexley suffering from tooth decay compared to 40 per cent in Harrow
  • only one in 12 under-twos in Croydon are registered with a dentist

Chair of the London Assembly Health Committee, Dr Onkar Sahota, said, ‘Research in recent years has told us just how dangerous excess sugar is in our diet.

‘Tooth decay and diabetes are just some of the many negative outcomes if precautions are not taken.

‘Schools are the centre of a child’s education and a commitment to sugar-freedom would be revolutionary. Every child in London could have a sugar-free start in life – the health benefits would be enormous.

‘The mayor has the clout to encourage families and schools to make sure London children see dentists as early as possible, be part of a supervised brushing scheme and keep sugar to a minimum.’

  • The report is available here
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