Saint Lucia has suspended a ban on sugar-sweetened beverages in schools ‘until further notice’.
An Education Ministry memo on Friday to all primary and secondary school principals explained that the ban’s suspension allowed for broader stakeholder engagement and greater dissemination of information on the matter.
The Education Ministry had announced that according to a Cabinet Conclusion, the ban on sugary drinks would have been effective January 4, 2023.
“Children will not be allowed to consume high sugar-sweetened drinks on school premises,” a Ministry statement said.
The recommended sugar content was below one teaspoon per one millilitre of liquid.
Responding to the ban’s suspension, the President of the National Principals’ Association(NPA), Valerie St. Helene-Henry, said it indicated a flaw in the process before making the prohibition public.
“There is need for more consultation, more guidance and instruction,” St Helene-Henry told St Lucia Times.
She observed that although principals were part of the consultation, there were different views regarding the approach toward the ban and the implications of the move.
“There will be repercussions. There will be challenges and there are lots of questions as to the way forward,” St. Helene-Henry observed.
She noted that many schools have a no-soft-drinks policy.
But she said the ban that the Ministry has suspended was more holistic in addressing sugar-sweetened drinks.
“We have a lot of questions regarding who determines which one is and which one is not (sugary). We have no list of the drinks that probably parents should buy for their children,” she pointed out.
In addition, the NPA President observed that even while encouraging students to use homemade beverages made from local fruit, sugar might be needed.
When Saint Lucia announced the ban on sugary drinks in schools, health officials welcomed it, noting the adverse effects of excessive sugar consumption on health.
Headline photo courtesy Fernando Andrade (Unsplash.com)