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UK Parliamentarian Asks Schools to Ban Sugar (and Challenges Prime Minister to Go Sugar Free!)

Published on January 29, 2014,

Earlier in the week we reported a disappointing leaflet being sent home from schools in England and Wales encouraging parents to switch to lower fat foods. All is not gloomy, however, as the BBC is reporting a Member of Parliament who is asking all schools in his Leicester consistency to ban sugar in its meals and vending machines…

English: David Cameron is a British politician...

British Prime Minister david Cameron has been challenged to go sugar-free for one day (photo credit Wikipedia)

Leicester East MP Keith Vaz has written to the city council asking it to become the first in the country to run sugar-free canteens.

Mr Vaz said: “I think it is very important people understand that sugar is not good for their health.”

…Mr Vaz, a Labour MP and chairman of the Home Affairs committee, said: “We have sugar available quite freely in drinks and food in our schools and with the obesity rates that we have got it is very important that we act immediately.

“In the average vending machine, you will see hundreds of teaspoons of sugar masquerading as cans of drinks and sweets.”

Mr Vaz, who has diabetes, said it made “economic sense” to ban sugar as it would “save a lot of money” treating people with obesity and type two diabetes…

Mr Vaz asked David Cameron during Prime Minister’s questions earlier in January to join him in the “war on sugar” by giving up sugar and sugary drinks for one day.

Mr Cameron said he would accept the challenge, adding: “If I possibly can”.

More at: Leicester East MP Keith Vaz asks schools to ban sugar

Head in Hands: Schools Still Advising Parents To Switch To Low Fat Alternatives

Published on January 27, 2014,

Just when it seems the message is getting through to the mainstream that it is almost certainly sugar that is the real villain in the obesity epidemic, those of us based in the England or Wales with children will have been brought down to earth with a leaflet from schools advising parents to switch to low fat alternatives…

A page from the Change4Life booklet given to parents in England and Wales

A page from the Change4Life booklet given to parents in England and Wales

The leaflet, from the government funded National Health Service’s Change4Life campaign, advices parents to sign up for a series of “Smart Swaps” which include:

- swapping full-fat milk for semi-skimmed or skimmed (reduced fat) milk

- swapping butter for low-fat butter or spreads

- swapping full-fat cheese for reduced-fat cheese

It also has a section on saturated vs unsaturated fats (where saturated fats are inevitably described as “bad fats”).

Here are a few more snippets:

- “Chilli: use leaner mince to reduce the saturated fat content. Or try it vegetarian-style for a change by adding beans, pulses and vegetables instead of mince.”

- “Mashed potato: use reduced-fat spread instead of butter, and 1% fat milk or skimmed milk instead of whole or semi-skimmed milk.”

- “Mayonnaise can be really high in saturated fat. It can turn a healthy looking meal like a salad into a less healthy one in just a couple of dollops! Keep an eye on the salad dressings too – try using low fat options, or using less than usual.”

In fairness, the leaflet also has a section on “Smart Swaps” to reduce sugar (although they mainly involve using sugar alternatives to soft drinks) but seems oblivious to the fact that its low-fat suggestions will be having precisely the opposite effect.

No doubt this leaflet is well-intentioned, but is it really still acceptable for governments to be giving out this kind of advice advocating low-fat products?

See more at the Change4Life website

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