School lunches are, arguably, one of the most controversial and often contested elements of nutrition at large. After all, no one likes the idea that the health of children is being compromised by junk food, sugary drinks or other food products that may promote poor general health over time. With that in mind, it is, perhaps, somewhat more understandable why so many food advocates are targeting the highly sweetened drinks found in the lunchboxes of children in public and private schools around the world.
Why are these drinks so prevalent when so many are aware of their dangers? The reason is two fold. Sugary soft drinks are often a cheap “filler” for school lunches, a tasty and affordable add-on to the menu for children which is guaranteed to keep them excited and happy about their lunchtime meals. Sugary drinks are also extremely easy to find and purchase, which plays an important role in making them as widespread as they are today.
With this in mind, the question should then be asked : should school lunches ban these items? There is, of course, no easy answer to this question. If you ask dieticians and nutritionists what their opinion is, you will likely hear something along the lines of, “yes, they should be banned immediately”. According to many experts, the average UK resident consumes over 93 g of sugar in packaged foods and soft drink products on a daily basis. Is this healthy? Of course not – but, is the status quo something that should be maintained?
Policy makers ultimately decide whether or not certain things stay the same or change entirely, which is why it would be impossible to deduce exactly what is ahead for soft drinks and school children alike. Suffice to say, no matter what happens regarding the presence of soft drinks in school lunches, we can be guaranteed that future will likely devote a considerably larger amount of their available real estate to discussing potential health hazards, such as sugar content, in the near future. This, in itself, is a minor victory for all who believe that food manufacturers have a responsibility to keep their consumers in good health.