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Nutrition in schools — outdated guidelines need updating

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To the Editor: The National Healthy School Canteens (NHSC) project commenced in 2008 to help provide guidelines for healthier food and drink choices in Australian schools. At their core, the guidelines seek to restrict the availability of poor food choices by encouraging the preferential availability of healthy options. These guidelines should ensure the translation of health research and national health curriculum into practice. However, the current NHSC guidelines are inadequate and fall short of their aims as they rate foods only on energy, fat and sodium, and disregard the sugar content of commercially available foods.

The initial decision to disregard sugar as a criterion for rating foods available in school canteens was intentional. The New South Wales government website states that sugar content was not included “To keep the criteria as simple as possible and to ensure that foods containing naturally occurring sugars . . . were not disadvantaged”.1 Surprisingly, sugar content is not even a criterion for assessing “sugar-sweetened drinks”.2

Excess sugar consumption is associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity. This has been reported in both human and non-human studies…