The Tasmanian primary school that banned Christmas candy canes and birthday treats has gone to ground, deleting a Facebook post it made to announce the policy and refusing to comment in the wake of a community backlash.
On Wednesday Bellerive Primary School's Eat Well Move Well policy to disallow candy canes and birthday cakes came under fire on the school's Facebook page, with some likening it to totalitarian rule, while others strongly praised the initiative.
The school has since deleted the Facebook post, while a post on the ABC Hobart page asking for opinions on the ban has continued to draw comments from parents.
When approached again to comment, Bellerive's principal and the school association declined for a second day.
Cameron Johns, executive officer with Eat Well Tasmania, which supports and promotes healthy eating, said the school taking its Facebook post down could be a sign it has realised the approach has not worked.
"They might have found that it came on a bit strong," he said.
"Outright banning doesn't always go the right way."
Mr Johns said he supported the message the school was trying to deliver but that it was unhelpful being seen as "the fun police".
He said that at Christmas and other special occasions, much of the celebrations involved sweet foods.
"We don't want to have fun equalling sugar, the focus should be on the giving, rather than the giving of treats," he said.
"Reducing the everyday consumption of sugar isn't a bad thing. We are the fattest state in Australia, only 7 per cent of people eat enough vegetables."
"We don't have any holidays that celebrate fruit and veg. People come from around Australia to celebrate our food, yet we eat the least of our own good produce."
Asked how the healthy eating message could be more effectively disseminated in schools, Mr Johns said the key was to go gently.
"Even the Cookie Monster now has cookies as a 'sometimes' food. I think we should look at it as discretionary. It could be fun. Maybe a healthy-face man, made out of fruit and veg?"
Ban is 'demonising sugar'
A caller to 963 ABC Hobart said her children attended Bellerive Primary and the announcement of the ban — which the school said had been agreed on by staff and the school association "after much discussion" — should have been put to parents.
"It wasn't communicated or surveyed, they have a newsletter, they could have easily asked people questions," Adela said.
"Demonising sugar doesn't help.
"If you turn something evil, something you're not allowed to have, you increase the desire to have it, the kids go crazy if they are denied it, they finally get it and they go off their heads."
Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said on Thursday the school should rethink the policy on candy canes and birthday treats.
"Christmas comes once a year as do children's birthdays, so while I appreciate the importance of a balanced healthy diet, I urge the school association to use some common sense and reconsider," Mr Rockliff said yesterday.