Schools are being encouraged to teach pupils about reducing their sugar intake in maths and English lessons.
A government department is offering dedicated teaching resources for the core subjects for the first time in a bid to promote healthier eating habits among schoolchildren.
It came after figures from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that 10-year-olds are consuming an average of 52.2 grams of sugar a day – the equivalent of 2,800 excess sugar cubes per year.
The resources, which have been launched as part of the PHE campaign Change4Life, will be used by primary schools to help pupils understand how much sugar is in their food and drink.
Through the lesson activities, children will be taught that the number of extra sugar cubes they are consuming is enough to wrap around the world more than three and a half times.
Last week, parents were encouraged to make everyday swaps when shopping to reduce their children’s sugar intake – and now schools are being told to play their part in improving pupils’ health.
New English lesson plans will include healthy recipes from around the world, while maths classes will reinforce healthier swaps through the use of problem solving skills.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Children are consuming too much sugar and obesity is a very real threat to their health.
“Educating them on the importance of a healthy balanced diet in their early years can help them avoid serious illness in future.
“By making simple swaps each day, children can have healthier versions of everyday foods and drinks, while significantly reducing their sugar intake.”
Last month, Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that expecting schools to tackle childhood obesity risked them being distracted from their core purpose.
Speaking at the launch of the watchdog’s annual report, she said: “Schools cannot take over the role of health professionals – and above all parents. The answer to the obesity crisis, particularly among younger children, lies in the home, and parents should not abdicate their responsibility here.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The union considers that the government should not only support the teaching of the principles of a healthy diet; it should also provide children and their families with the means to enjoy such a diet.
“Teachers do not want to teach a curriculum which so far as many children are concerned is purely theoretical. Yet the figures show that for many children a healthy diet is out of reach.
“As a result of benefit changes the number of children eligible for free school meals continues to fall, while the number of children living in poverty – including food poverty – continues to rise.”
James Bowen, director of NAHT Edge, a section of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Most schools will already be teaching children about healthy lifestyles and healthy eating.
“Cross-curricula learning can be helpful to embed messages so it’s a good idea to revisit important topics in other lessons as long as it doesn’t distract from core learning.”
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