Australian school students have started taking a set of classes developed to address and inform them of the health risks of excess sugar consumption. This joint oral health program was developed by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and SugarByHalf, a not-for-profit body dedicated to reduce sugar intake and the risk of diseases linked to excess sugar consumption. The program was co developed and is being run by Cool Australia. Lessons and related education resources are available to educators and students online.
Why is it so important to inform Australian school students about the health risks of sugar?
Short answer: Too many Australians are over consuming sugar and are experiencing serious health problems as a result.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the recommended daily intake of sugar should not exceed 6 teaspoons of added sugar. However, Australians consume way over that daily amount by eating 14-16 teaspoons on average. Children and teens consume even more where the average exceeds a whopping 20 teaspoons or more.
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The effects of high added sugar intake on your health
Eating too much sugar is a key causative factor in a number of developmental and health issues that can impact on a child throughout their entire lifetime. These include:
- tooth decay and oral disease
- brain developmental issues
- poor sleep
- learning difficulties
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- Alzheimer’s & mental health issues
What will students be taught about sugar consumption?
The SugarByHalf school program is comprised of a number of curriculum-aligned lessons that can be integrated in science, math, HPE and English units at primary and secondary school levels.
Students are taught to understand and recognise how sugar is marketed to them, good nutrition and the health effects of long term sugary food choices. Units include:
- The social and economic impact of sugar (HASS – Grades 5/6)
- Understanding the nutrition information panel (Math – Grades 5/6)
- Body science – the science of sugar (HPE – Grades 7/8)
- The influence of advertising on sugar consumption (English – Grades 9/10)
- Sugar, acids and tooth decay (Science – Grades 9/10)
Is your child’s school teaching the Sugar-By-Half curriculum?
If the answer is no, do something about it. If you are a concerned parent or educator, you can find out more information about these free curriculum-aligned learning units at: https://www.coolaustralia.org/sugar-by-half-landing-page/
While some lessons include practical science investigations that can only be conducted in a classroom, others are quite suitable for home learning. Future lessons are currently in development for early childhood age groups also.
You can also access a wealth of free oral health activities and educational resources for students from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) website here: