Not so sweet

12th May 2006 at 01:00
The Government's plan to ban vending machines in secondary schools is encouraging, but why isn't this policy being extended to colleges? Every week, I deal with pupils high on sugar and out of control. For many of them, their lunch consists of sweets and crisps. There is a great deal in the news about lecturers in FE being unable to cope with this new wave of younger students, but all the talk is about helping lecturers to manage these individuals.

What about trying to get closer to the causes of their behaviour, one of which is surely diet?

You make a very good case. The link between diet and behaviour is not generally disputed.

The link between diet and educational attainment remains a moot point, although scientific evidence indicates that the effects of a high sugar diet on the brain are not conducive to learning.

I recently watched a film about a man who decides to eat nothing but McDonald's for 30 days. In the film, he visits a school for disaffected pupils with learning and behavioural difficulties, similar in many ways to a number of the students that are now finding their way into FE.

The difference was that this school had no vending machines. Students were offered a balanced diet of locally prepared, unprocessed food that according to the principal clearly improved their behaviour.

Dilemmas should be emailed to Donald Short at

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