Confectionery (lollies, candy and sweets) is a food of minimal nutritional value that is highly processed, high in sugar and often high in fat as well. Because of this, even small serves contribute a significant amount to energy intake while providing little nutritional benefit. Under the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy guidelines across Australia, all confectionery is classified as Occasional and is restricted for sale unless it has a Health Star Rating of 3.5 or above and a portion size of less than 50g; most confectionery will not meet these criteria and will not be available for sale.
The added sugar in confectionary can be in various forms such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, lactose, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, glucose syrups, fruit sugar, syrups, sugar-derived products such as molasses or treacle and icing sugar.
Confectionery can also be made with artificial sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, isomalt and polydextrose.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating classifies confectionery as a ‘discretionary choice’ or ‘extra’ food, i.e. it is not an essential or necessary part of the diet. It is recommended that children up to 8 years of age have no more than ½ a serve of discretionary choices per day while for older children and adolescents who are more active and not above their healthy weight range 0-2 ½ serves. A serve of confectionery is equivalent to 5-6 small lollies or ½ small bar (20-25g) of chocolate.
The following tips can help reduce your family’s intake of confectionery:
- Suggest an alternate snack such as dried fruit
- If you or your family want something sweet, try a sweet food from one of the Five Food Groups such as fruit or reduced fat yoghurt.
- Encourage mindful eating. Ask children whether they are actually hungry when they ask for a snack – often we snack simply out of boredom or habit.
- Avoid having confectionery in your fridge or pantry as it is difficult to resist the temptation of these foods when they are easily available.
- When you do buy confectionery – purchase single-serve choices so you don’t have extra’s lying around.
- Keep confectionery out of sight – if you do have confectionery in the house, store it in a container that isn’t see-through. Out of sight out of mind!