Healthy eating in schools: guidance

A guide to implementing the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008.

Section 7: Practical guidance on foods not covered by the standards for food outwith the school lunch

Health and wellbeing should be central to choosing which foods are provided.

Not all foods are covered by the standards for food outwith the school lunch. However, it is essential that careful consideration is given to all foods provided to ensure the choices support the ethos of the health promoting school, putting the health of children and young people at the centre of every decision.

Provision of healthier snacks

We know that many children and young people in Scotland are consuming inadequate amounts of fruit and vegetables and eating too many foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.

Poor diets contribute to both short-term health problems (e.g. poor dental health) and long-term health conditions (e.g. heart disease, obesity, diabetes), and poor dietary habits acquired in childhood and adolescence are often continued into adulthood, further increasing the risk of health problems throughout life.

The standards for foods outwith the school lunches no longer allow confectionery and fried foods to be provided, and place a restriction on savoury snacks. However, to address the over consumption by children and young people of foods high in fat, salt and sugar it is also essential to discourage the frequent consumption of biscuits, cakes, pastries, and fatty and salty meat products and to replace these with more fruit and vegetables and starchy foods.

Oils and spreads outwith the school lunch should comply with the criteria under Standard 4 on page 29.

Types of snacks to encourage

Fruit and vegetable choices should be encouraged (e.g. soups and fruit pots). Other foods such as sandwiches, jacket potatoes and fillings, scrambled eggs on toast and non-sugar-coated cereals are some other examples of foods to encourage ( see section 5 for practical guidance).

Types of snacks to reduce or discourage

Foods that are high in fat, saturated fats, sugars and salt should be very carefully considered and care should be taken to ensure that the choices on offer do not undermine the uptake of healthy school lunches.

Examples of such foods include:

  • a wide variety of high-sugar and fat products such as sweet pastries, cakes including American-style muffins, tray bakes, biscuits, and ice-creams
  • a wide variety of fatty or salty meat products (even if baked or grilled), garlic breads or butteries.

Depending on the type of food in question, options for consideration could include:

  • reduction in the frequency of serving and portion size of particular types of foods
    e.g. grilled bacon, tray bakes
  • not serving particular types of products that are typically high in fat, saturated fats, sugars and salt.

It is impossible to give guidance on all foods. When deciding what foods to provide, stop and think ... is this food we should be promoting to children and young people in a health promoting school?


Email: Lynne Carter

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