WHAT IS IT?
An important commitment of SAFE’s broader Sugar Project concerns direct consumer information. In this respect, SAFE has worked along with nutritionists to deliver course material aimed at children and teenagers (8 to 14 years old) on the prevalence of sugar in their diet and the health risks associated to it; they constitute indeed the age group most prone to consuming sugar in excess. The objective is now to spread the message across EU Member States, starting in Belgium with the campaign “Désucrez-vous! Du sucre oui, mais pas trop“.
With the financial support of the Education Ministry of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, SAFE has launched in February 2017 the first phase of this campaign.
From 2017 onward, 90 workshops were conducted, 120 classes in 20 different schools in Belgium were taught and 2.500 children and teenagers aged 8 to 18 years old benefited from the training, as well as more than 60 parents and more than 120 teachers, headmasters, educators and government officers. Overall, the workshops obtained a grade of 4.4 out of 5 among Belgian teachers.
In 2019, the Sugar Trainings were recognised as ‘Best Practice to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals‘ by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission. A certificate of Best Practice was awarded to SAFE by Commissioners Navracsics, Andriukaitis and Hogan during the Tartu Call Award Ceremony on 19 June 2019.
The trainings are being disseminated to 10 EU members states (IT, DE, PL, GR, BE, GB, IR, BU, ES, NL, PO) through the ‘Tackling Adolescent Obesity’ Erasmus + project coordinated by SAFE.
HOW IS IT DONE?
These nutrition trainings take the form of a 2-hour long interactive course given to up to four classes inside the school premises. The training session includes games, videos, Q&A sessions, and discussions between children and the team.
The first objective of the course is to raise pupils’ awareness of how much sugar they usually consume. Experience shows that they usually are not aware of it, and do not pay any particular attention to the matter.
Then, the impacts of excessive sugar consumption on health are explained to children, from non-communicable diseases to other health troubles.
Finally, they are taught how to properly read food labels and how to calculate the sugar content of any given product, based on the information given on the label. Additionally, a few tips on how to avoid overconsumption are shared with the students.
At the end of the training, children are given written documents designed for them, explaining in particular the WHO’s recommendations on sugar consumption, so as to improve information retaining.