Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 10 credits / 15 HE credits
More and more preschools are choosing to reduce the sugar consumption. The reason is, inter alia, the increase of weight in the community, but there is also research showing that sugar is harmful to children. The discussions on sugar and children are also a hot media topic.
I have chosen to use a qualitative method, interviews, to gather material for the essay. I have interviewed a teacher and a cook in three different preschools, in different municipalities. I have also looked at their various nutrition policies to see how the guidelines for their work on diet and health look like. I have been inspired by Vygotskys socio-cultural perspective on learning which broadly means that we learn in social contexts and communicative processes is central to the socio-cultural perspective. Furthermore, interest in how individuals and groups acquire and utilize physical and cognitive resources and the interplay between collective and individual focus.
The purpose of this paper is to find out why the surveyed preschools are working to reduce the amount of sugar served. Furthermore, the purpose of this paper is to show how the preschools where I interviewed my informants work with diet and health and find out what their attitudes to sugar and what they want to convey to the children and their families. My questions are: What's behind the decision to decrease sugar intake of the investigated preschools and what was the process like? What thoughts the staff at the preschool have about the role of sugar, for everyday and festive? How do the preschools work with diet and health and why do they work in that way?
My conclusions are that it was the municipality who decided that preschools would work to reduce the amount of sugar and convey a healthy lifestyle. Their theory was that the decision was made because there was much talk about sugar's effects on health in the media and that a lot of research in this area was presented. The preschools had been quick to embrace the new guidelines and were in favour. They started with measures like thinking about what snacks they served the children and to get them used to eating non-sweetened food. They did, however, agree that the sugar would not be banned completely but they wanted to show that it was good to eat in moderation and at certain times. All three preschools served some sweets at major ceremonies, this traditionally include some treats such as gingerbread cookies around Christmas. However, they chose not to celebrate with sweets at the children's birthdays. This was mainly because it would be too often.
They also wanted to show the children that when there was a party the focus did not lie on the goodies. Preschool is also an addition to the home and is, together with the parents, responsible for the children to having a balanced energy intake during the day. Therefore, they argued that it was good to be clear about the kids did not consuming too much sugar at the preschool. The parents could then account for that part at home. Some parents initially thought it was sad and strange that they were not allowed to bring sweets for the children's birthdays. But the teachers explained why and as time passed the parents got used to it and they were now very positive.
The cooks were more engaged in the topic and found the teachers should work more explicitly and actively talk about sugar and a good diet. The teachers said that they did not want to affect the children given the harsh health and body image conveyed by the media. Instead, they wanted a natural way to be healthy and be good role models themselves. The teachers could be more involved and try to entice children to try new things and oversee what they put on their plates. None of the teachers said that they tried to influence parents to think healthy, but they hoped they would be inspired by the pre-schools work and told them about why they were working on reducing sugar.
2012. , 44 p.