Singapore

No sweet drinks at Riverside Primary

As primary schools are stepping up their efforts to 
fight diabetes, some are going further than others

As primary schools are doubling down to fight diabetes following a Health Promotion Board (HPB) initiative launched this year to, among other things, get drinks sold with less sugar, one school has already been waging the war against sugar for years - Riverside Primary School in Woodlands Crescent.

Since 2013, when the school opened, it has never had a drinks stall.

Said its principal, Mrs Sharon Siew: "We have always advocated the drinking of plain water and for everyone to bring their water bottles every day, and to refill them at the water coolers all around the school.

"Consuming too many sugary drinks may also spoil the children's appetite. We have to start at a young age so that it becomes part of our lifestyle."

Parents and pupils supported the move, with some even posting positive messages on the school's Facebook page.

Madam Wendy Yeo, 49, whose daughter Eunice Yong is a Primary 4 pupil at the school, said she encourages Eunice to drink water.

"Parents were told of the move to do without a drinks stall and all of us have been very supportive," she said.

Kirtana Sureshkumar, 11, a Primary 5 pupil at the school, said: "Sometimes I may feel a bit jealous, especially when I hear from my friends that they have a drinks stall in their school.

Consuming too many sugary drinks may also spoil the children’s appetite. We have to start at a young age so that it becomes part of our lifestyle. Riverside Primary School principal, Mrs Sharon Siew

"But... I know our school adopts a healthier lifestyle and too much of sugary drinks is not good."

There are also no vending machines selling sugary drinks. Pupils who forget to bring their water bottles can pick up bottles of mineral water at the school's general office.

Teachers and other staff members are also encouraged to drink water. Parents are allowed to pack drinks such as Milo to school for their children.

Other primary schools have been taking steps to cut down on sugary drinks, although not quite to the extent of Riverside Primary.

The 69 other schools The Straits Times spoke to said they have been following HPB's Healthy Meals in Schools Programme, which also encourages schools to sell drinks with less sugar.

Two schools - Xishan Primary and Ai Tong School - have gone further.

This year, Xishan Primary decided to stop the sale of carbonated drinks. Only packet drinks, milk, fruits and jelly are sold at the drinks stall.

Mr Roland Neo, physical education and co-curricular activities head, said of the school's move: "It is definitely healthier for the children. A lot of students used to buy carbonated drinks in the past."

Ai Tong School said it has stopped the sale of sugary bottled drinks to pupils from the third quarter of this year.

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