Fast food risks slow learning
Schools are concerned that too many students have so much junk food and energy drinks during the day that they interfere with their learning.
The Education Department yesterday backed a push by Lockridge Senior High School to ban students taking junk foods to the school.
“There are many schools that have wanted to limit young people bringing to school things like very strong caffeine and sugar-based drinks, ” the department’s acting deputy director-general of schools Lindsay Hale said.
“When a child is bringing in as many as four or five of those a day, that has a big impact on their behaviour, their concentration and their ability to learn. It is a genuine concern and certainly not confined to Lockridge.”
Parents of Lockridge students were upset yesterday about a letter posted on social media outlining plans to confiscate lollies, chocolates and potato chips.
Mr Hale said the letter was understood to be a draft sent to a few people in the school for feedback before it was leaked to the media.
He said there was no evidence to support claims students’ bags would be searched for food.
“Staff can do that when there is a strong suspicion of serious risk such as weapons or drugs but you wouldn’t do it for an energy drink or chocolate, ” Mr Hale said. A Lockridge SHS newsletter in June last year said high-caffeine drinks would be confiscated if brought onsite but the school confirmed it was not enforced and it was still revising its healthy food and drink policy.
WA Council of State School Organisations president Kylie Catto said confiscating junk food could backfire by making it more attractive to rebellious teens.
“We don’t believe the department’s healthy food and drink policy (for canteens) extends to being able to dictate what a child brings from home, ” she said.
She said schools should consult their community and educate children and parents about healthy eating.
Health Foundation chief executive Maurice Swanson said confiscating food was “overreach”.
The real challenge was children being bombarded by junk food and drink marketing.
© The West Australian
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