Scottish schools should reduce the sugar content of their lunchtime menus and encourage kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Those are the calls from the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, in its submission to the national consultation on nutritional requirements for food and drinks in schools.

The faculty is asking for unhealthy puddings to be taken off lunchtime menus and replaced with healthier options.

‘We fully support the positive intention of proposed regulations,’ faculty dean, Professor Graham Ogden, said.

‘But we feel the Scottish Government should take a bolder approach to ensure young people have the healthiest possible start.

‘For example, we all agree that children should have greater access to more fruit and vegetables as part of their school day.

‘But increasing access does not necessarily increase consumption.

‘Guidance must include an evidence based plan to ensure any increase in provision means our young people consume larger amounts of healthier food during school meals.’

Sugar-free drinks

A third of children in Scottish schools suffer from dental decay, whilst 29% are overweight or obese, the faculty claims.

The faculty is also opposing the inclusion of sugar-free drinks on permitted drinks in schools

‘This could see the reintroduction of diet fizzy drinks,’ Professor Ogden continues.

‘Some will argue sugar free is a harm reduction approach, but it has all of the well-known disadvantages of that tactic.

‘We also know that diet drinks cause dental erosion, in addition to being a gateway to sugar.

‘We should aim to ensure that our children’s oral health gets off to the best possible start in life.’