Wellington swim school promotes a healthy message

Healthy Futures was approached by a Wellington swim school requesting advice around rewarding their students at the end of each term. The swim school had been in the habit of offering lollipops to the children on completion of their course but they had been challenged by a parent on why they offered a sugary reward. After polling the parents (with mixed results) the swim school decided to withdraw the lollipops.

A Healthy Futures Rewarding Healthy Habits flyer was sent out to all families, giving them options for non­food rewards and explaining the reasons for withdrawing the lollipops namely:

● the swim school did not feel that it was their place to be giving children sweets which parents may not want their children to have

● the swim school felt that there was an increasing social acceptance of junk food as a reward and it being at the centre of children’s events

● rewarding exercise achievement with unhealthy food didn’t really make sense and it didn’t fit with the school’s promotion of physical activity and healthy children

Not long after the lollipops were removed from the swim school programme, the school was then contacted by a big multinational company offering free samples of cereal for each child taking part in their swimming lessons.

Once again Healthy Futures w as approached for advice. The swim school opted to reject the free cereal offer as a result. The reasons for this were:

● The swim school realised that the offer involved the marketing of foods to children

● The cereal was highly processed with sugar­added

● The serving size in the sample was small, and although the sample itself did not contain more than the WHO recommendations of no more than 3 teaspoons of sugar per day, children would be likely to consume a larger portion at home.

● The swim school felt that having made a successful stand with withdrawal of the lollipops from their programme, accepting a free sample of a commercial cereal could undermine the positive health promotion message that they had achieved.