Only water, 100 per cent fruit juices, low fat milk and blended vegetables or fruit drinks with no added sugars and/or artificial sweeteners are to be offered for sale at all government and government assisted schools. This was disclosed today by the Ministry of Education’s Chief Executive Officer Harrilal Seecharan.
He said the ministry recognises that reasonable time should be afforded to enable concessionaires to abide by the decision of Cabinet, and as such a phased approach is recommended whereby all cafeterias/canteens must be in compliance no later than September 2017.
“School supervisors and principals are therefore requested to bring this to the attention of all personnel involved in the sale or serving of drinks to students in schools including operators of cafeterias/canteens. School supervisors and principals are also asked to note that they are required to monitor this policy to ensure compliance in all schools.”
Seecharan said as part of the strategic framework to reduce the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and to address the epidemic of childhood obesity in TT, the ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health will be introducing a number of measures.
“It should be noted that childhood obesity is a significant risk factor for the early onset of NCDs in general and for diabetes and hypertension in particular.” He continued, “ Cabinet has agreed to adopt the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding sugar intake in adults and children which recommends that in both adults and children the intake of free sugars should be reduced by ten percent of the total energy intake.”
He said these beverages include soft drinks, juice drinks, flavoured water, sports/energy, drinks, tea, coffee and milk-based drinks with added sugars and/or artificial sweeteners.
When contacted president of the National Parents Teachers Association (NPTA), Zena Ramatali said they support the Ministry of Health initiative, and have been reaching out to parents to engage their children in drinking more water and eating healthier snacks.
“I am glad we were part of the initiative, and the banning of the sale of soft drinks in our schools. We fully endorse the initiative because we know in the long run it will benefit the health and well being of our children.”