Tuesday, October 14, 2008

British school pupils are banned from eating tomato ketchup as part of "healthy" eating drive

Ban: Tomato ketchup has been banned from the canteen in a string of Welsh primary schools and replaced with a sauce the cooks make. Primary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales, have removed the sauce because it contains 'too much salt and sugar'. The move has been branded 'daft' by some parents. Last week Marmite was banned from school breakfast clubs by Ceredigion Council, in Mid Wales, because of its salt content.

Sharon Chapman, 47, whose eight-year-old son Rory attends Peterston-Super-Ely Primary School said: 'He came home from school and said "We can't have ketchup any more". 'He can live without it and the healthy meals at the school are fantastic, but this seems one step too far. 'Tomato ketchup contains lycopene, which is good for you, but they say it's got a high level of salt and sugar. 'While it's not something you complain about, it seems a bit daft.'

Vale of Glamorgan Council leader Gordon Kemp said: 'It's all part of the healthy-eating programme and I think our council is one of the leading authorities in Wales in this respect.' A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: 'We do not tell local authorities not to serve ketchup in schools. 'It is for local authorities to ensure that their school meals are as balanced and healthy as possible.'


'How I weaned my son off Ritalin and proved discipline is better then drugs'

Earlier this year, Yvonne Dixon's 14-year-old son Jake turned to his mother during the car journey home from school and said calmly: 'If I was still on Ritalin, I think I would have killed myself by now. 'I used to think about throwing myself headfirst through a window. I would sit in my bedroom and cry all the time. 'I didn't want to worry you - I didn't think I could tell anyone what I was feeling.'

Jake, who lives with Yvonne, 44, a nurse, and his stepfather John, a 44-year-old retail manager, is one of the 5 per cent of children diagnosed with ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. What is remarkable about Jake is that he appears cured.

His mother doesn't think that is because he spent three years on Ritalin and a similar drug, dexanphetamin, but is down to old-fashioned discipline. 'I know some parents and medical experts may scoff, but I have seen a miraculous change in my son,' says Yvonne. 'It hasn't been an overnight change, just a steady and consistent improvement in his behaviour over the past six years since I took him off Ritalin.'

Yvonne, who lives in a four-bedroom house in Ingoldsby, Lincolnshire, had been told Jake would have to be educated in a special school and need support for the rest of his life. Instead, he is now a bright, articulate teenager who attends a mainstream school and has learned to curb his impulses. 'He holds up a time-out card in class when he feels himself becoming agitated and his concentration goes,' says Yvonne. 'His teacher lets him walk about outside until he feels himself calming down. He is in control of his condition, instead of the other way round.'

Once branded as 'hopelessly disruptive', Jake is taking Btec courses in advanced maths, IT, engineering and travel & tourism. He spends his spare time mending computers for friends and family. And yet he was condemned to a life of chemical dependency from the age of four.

'He was like a zombie on Ritalin,' says Yvonne. 'It was as if all the life had been taken out of him. 'He would rock himself backwards and forwards, crying. All the drug did was keep him quiet and sitting still in class - he didn't learn anything. 'Then, on the way home, tears would be sliding silently down his face. He was utterly miserable. 'I'd relied on the medical profession - of which I am a part - to give me the best advice. 'But I looked at Jake and thought: "This can't be right. You can't go on like this".'

Yvonne believes Ritalin is used to stop children making a nuisance of themselves in overcrowded classrooms. 'It's a scandal,' she says. However, she accepts Jake has problems. As her second child - she has a 19-year-old daughter - she knew there was something different about him before he was a year old. 'There was no eye contact,' she says. 'He didn't like being touched or hugged, and he developed an obsession with lightbulbs. 'He did not take any interest in toys and would never sit still.'

Jake did not speak until he was three, so Yvonne called in a speech therapist. 'She said he was OK, but he'd wake at 5am and take all of his clothes out of the drawers, peel off the wallpaper and once took all the fronts off his chest of drawers.

'His father was in the RAF and was away a lot when Jake was young. 'I do think the stress of coping with our son had a bearing on our marital problems, but it wasn't the whole story. 'It certainly made our time together more fraught because Jake constantly interrupts when you are talking - he can't read social interaction.'

The couple separated when Jake was three, but she claims this did not overly affect him because he does not become emotionally engaged with other people. However, his behavioural problems were all too apparent at nursery. 'He'd run around knocking all the cups out of the other children's hands. The staff would strap him into a chair to keep him still.

'In the past, children like Jake would have just been called naughty, but I believe there is a chemical imbalance in their brains - perhaps they have too much adrenaline. 'What I firmly do not believe is that they should be prescribed powerful drugs.'

At four, Jake was referred by his GP to a paediatrician at Grantham hospital. 'She told us he had ADHD and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Very convenient labels, but I still don't believe they should be controlled by drugs,' says Yvonne. Despite grave reservations, but exhausted by Jake's behaviour and lack of sleep, she agreed to have him put on dexanphetamin. 'This drug, like Ritalin, works on the chemical balance of the brain and has the effect of calming down a child immediately.

'He took it twice a day and the effect was instant. He was like a zombie. 'At first, he would calm down and then, as the effects left him, he went into withdrawal and became utterly miserable. It was terrifying.' A year later, under the advice of the paediatrician, Jake was taken off this drug and put onto Ritalin. 'The effect was the same. I moved him from a big state primary into a village school, but they couldn't cope. 'He just sat there in class, drugged up and learning nothing. It was heartbreaking.'

When Jake was eight, his mother took him off Ritalin. 'I tried an additive-free diet, fish oils and other so-called cures, but nothing worked. He went back to being hyperactive and running round and round,' she says. A year after her divorce, Yvonne had met John, who became her second husband. He took a no-nonsense approach to Jake. 'We decided the way forward was good, old-fashioned discipline.

'In the past, I might have been guilty of giving in to Jake, because he was so persistent. 'I was tired and it was easier to let him race around than try to contain him.' Yvonne created a set routine for Jake: every morning, he gets up at the same time. He is expected to tidy his room and lay out the breakfast things. He has to make eye contact and reply to questions. Manners are vital. 'He has to say please and thank you. I never raise my voice to him, and the atmosphere in the house is always calm,' says Yvonne. 'Everything happens in a specified sequence of events. 'Coming home from school, he has a cup of tea, a snack and then is allowed to go to his bedroom and work on his computer. 'Bedtime is always at the same time, after a bath and reading a book.

'We operate a reward system - if he is late or becomes agitated, he is not allowed to work on his computers. He has learned to control his own behaviour. 'It sounds easy, but it has been a long, slow road. We've had lots of setbacks, because if he can't have what he wants immediately, he could get frustrated. 'But he has learned that I am not going to change my mind and give in to him. 'I have given him boundaries and discipline, and it has worked miracles on his behaviour. The time-out system works at home, too. 'If he feels he is becoming agitated, he has to sit down or go for a walk until he calms down.'

More here

No comments: