School Canteens Provide Healthy Foods

Who here thinks school canteens have responsibility to provide healthy foods to students? Well I am here today to talk to you about why I feel so strongly that they are responsible. The main topics I will be talking about will be, firstly the roles schools play in providing and educating students on the importance of healthy eating. And secondly how a healthy diet plays a preventative role in relation to nutrition-related conditions and diseases, now and in later life. Students consume 40% of their daily food intake at school, which makes it important to educate them on how vital, eating healthy at school is.

Research shows that healthy eating throughout the day improves attention and concentration levels in class, better moods and higher energy levels which all contribute to better results in work. Schools play an important role in teaching students healthy eating habits and reinforcing those lessons through school practices. Consuming nutritious food and adopting a healthy lifestyle assists students to grow and develop to their optimum potential leading to improved educational outcomes. The eating habits of students are greatly influenced by the food available in the school environment.

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Children in primary and secondary school generally have access to the school canteen on a daily basis. It’s important that the canteen delivers the right nutritional message by providing a wide range of healthy food and drink options. This is where the National Healthy School canteen guidelines come into place with the Green, Amber and Red categories. Green, which is high in nutritional value, and schools are encouraged to advertise them in attractive and interesting ways. Amber, which contains some valuable nutrients, but may also be high in energy, and/or saturated fat and/or sodium.

And lastly the red category, which is low in nutrients. The aim is for all food and drinks sold in canteens to be as close to the green category as possible. Food eaten at school contributes substantially to the students’ daily nutrient intake and also has a considerable influence in the development of their eating habits, growth patterns and energy levels. It is vital that parents, teachers and students work together to support a whole-school approach to building a school culture in which students actively choose nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Research has shown that food preferences are generally developed throughout childhood and that eating habits obtained after adolescence are more resistant to change. The school environment plays an important role in nurturing and sustaining good eating habit for later in life. This then links onto my next main point of the health issues and disorders involved with not eating healthy. Schools need to promote good health through healthy eating to reduce levels of obesity and chronic diseases later in life.

If schools don’t assist in educating students on the importance of healthy eating this will not get them into a good eating habit, which would most likely continue to adulthood. This then poses the risk of obesity and other health related consequences. These involve psychosocial problems, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes which can all be directly attributed to childhood obesity. This is where Healthy Kids Association, a health promotion charity, steps in and aims to influence and promote healthy food choices for children.

This then will lead to the decrease in childhood overweight and obesity and the incidence of diet-related diseases in children. According to statistics from the better health channel from 1985 to 1995 the number of overweight 7–15 year olds almost doubled. The numbers of obese children has more than tripled. At the current rate, it is predicted that 65 per cent of young Australians will be overweight or obese by 2020. To put that in a visual for you in a class of 25 students 16 of them will be overweight or obese. Statistics show that about half (43-65%) of obese children will become obese as adults.

On the basis of present trends we can predict that by the time the next generation reaches the age of 20 they will have a shorter life expectancy than earlier generations simply because of obesity. To recap my main points I feel the school has a important role in educating and assisting the students on healthy eating and guiding them to healthy eating habits which will prevent them from any diseases/disorders in their adulthood. Overall I feel very strongly that schools have the responsibility to provide nutritious and healthy foods in their canteens for their students

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