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Children 'eat three times recommended level of sugar'

Charity calls for schools to cut down on puddings and offer more healthy alternatives.

Pudding: More likely to be found on school menus than soup. (file pic)
Pudding: More likely to be found on school menus than soup. (file pic) ITV

Primary children consume an average of 14g of sugar in the puddings of their school meals, a charity has revealed.

Obesity Action Scotland said a recent study found many Scots children are consuming three times the recommended level of free sugar every day.

The charity is now calling for priority to be given to vegetables, soup and salads over sweet treats on school menus.

A report for the charity stated: "We found that Scottish primary schools frequently offer salad bars and salad bowls but serve puddings more often than soup and frequently serve red and processed meat.

"More consistency is required to ensure we have a positive influence on the health of children growing up across the whole of Scotland.

"We are asking national and local governments to place greater value on school meals and create an eating culture by using unprocessed or minimally-processed foods wherever possible."

Two-thirds of primary pupils eat school meals, which the charity says offers an opportunity to drive dietary change in Scotland and act as a healthy eating example.

The report found free sugar intake is highest in children aged four to 18 compared to other age groups.

Cakes, cookies, sweetened yogurts and other desserts in school meals contributed to an excess in free sugars among children, the report found.

Obesity Action Scotland programme lead Lorraine Tulloch said: "We found that Scottish primary schools serve puddings more often that soup and these puddings have an average of 14g of sugar.

"Change is possible and we have highlighted areas where that change is starting to happen, but more action is needed and greater priority and attention needs to be given to this subject to ensure we offer all our children the best start in life."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said a review of school food and drink nutritional standards is currently under way.

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