Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that exists naturally in plants such as coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans and kola nut. Many foods and drinks are fortified with caffeine for its bitter taste and refreshing effect. Excessive intake of caffeine can cause anxiety, rapid heartbeat, tremors, sleep disturbance and upset stomach, and these effects may be amplified in children.
Children should therefore try to avoid beverages high in caffeine such as coffee, milk tea and certain soft drinks, and maintain a balanced and varied diet. Schools and childcare facilities should avoid serving such beverages to children.
Salt and sugar
Dietary sodium and sugar intakes are closely related to health. Excessive sodium intake increases the risk of developing hypertension, fatal stroke and coronary heart disease, while added sugars are a significant source of excess calories, provide no nutritional value and may cause weight gain and an increased risk for dental caries, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Schools and childcare facilities play an important role in creating an eating environment that promotes low sugar and sodium in meals.
- Educational materials on promotion of low sugar and sodium at school
- Shopping cards for a healthier diet
- Nutrition guidelines for children aged 2 to 6 (published by Department of Health)
- Nutritional guidelines on lunch for students for use in primary and secondary schools (published by Department of Health)
- Nutritional guidelines on snacks for students for use in primary and secondary schools (published by Department of Health)