School Nutrition

Why is it so important to have healthy food in schools?

  • As children spend a significant amount of time at school, they provide an important setting for healthy eating. The influence of school continues through to adulthood.
  • Energy dense, high fat and high sugar snacks dominate the menu in many school tuckshops and vending machines. When unhealthy foods and drinks are regularly and readily available in school canteens, vending machines, classroom rewards and sporting activities – it undermines the “healthy eating” messages of the school curriculum and that of many families.
  • The predominance of unhealthy foods creates the impression that they are “everyday foods” rather than “occasional foods”.
    Offering children healthy foods and drinks in school makes the selection of a balanced and nutritious diet much easier for them.
    The availability of healthy foods and drinks at school supports parental activity to create a nutritious lifestyle for their children.

 

 Overweight and obesity in children

 

  •  Worldwide and very much in South Africa, children are getting heavier. Nearly 30% of children are currently overweight or obese. This figure is rising by almost 1 per cent each year and experts predict that by 2025 nearly half of all children will be either overweight or obese.
  • There are many reasons why children are putting on weight.  Essentially overweight and obesity in children is usually caused by a lack of physical activity and / or excessive intake of unhealthy foods. Energy intake must exceed energy expenditure for weight gain to result.
  • Overweight and obesity can result in a variety of serious complications and health problems including: psychosocial problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnoea.
  • Children who are overweight or obese have a greater chance of being overweight or obese as adults and put themselves at risk of a number of life threatening medical consequences, including some types of cancer.

Learning & Behavioural Problems in children

  • Certain additives (colourants, flavourants & preservatives) have been shown in studies to cause hyperactivity, can aggravate Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Disorders and affect the mood of children.
  • Sugar and caffeine intake has also been shown to lower immune system function as well as negatively affect mood and behaviour.
  • Children’s blood sugar levels rise rapidly after consuming refined carbohydrates, and then plummets a short while afterwards. This adversely effects concentration, focus, memory and academic performance, as well as sports performance.

Source:

The Parents Jury:

http://www.parentsjury.org.au/tpj_browse.asp?ContainerID=1833

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