It took a celebrity chef in the form of Jamie Oliver to open a lot of our eyes as to what exactly goes on in school cafeteria and a lot of the findings weren’t pretty. Now with childhood obesity on the rise it seems even greater steps have to be taken to ensure we are setting our children off on the right path to a happy and healthy future.
In order to do this the European Commission has published the first ever comprehensive report on school food policies in Europe. What this first shows is that all of us across the EU’s 28 countries (as well as Norway and Switzerland) acknowledge the importance of food on a child’s health and also their performance at school. All of these countries have existing guidelines for what quality of food should be provided to children at school but as you might imagine these guidelines vary considerably between countries. You can see examples of these different measures that vary from the banning of vending machines to voluntary guidelines given to children about portion sizes.
A disturbing report has stated how nearly one in three children in Europe is overweight and the consequences of this are that they will develop nasty habits they will take into later life and also risk developing a number of preventable illnesses and diseases. Any place that your child spends a large quantity of their time is going to affect them in some way and therefore schools play an important part in developing healthy eating habits as you children are likely to eat one to two of their main meals a day there.
The assessment is therefore a step in the right direction to learn as much as we can from other countries to help limit the risk of obesity. Not only is it an interesting read but it also can provide a strong basis for any European policymakers, education boards or researchers to investigate the link between school food policies and obesity in children and the best ways to promote a healthy diet.
Some interesting findings from the report show that only half the countries in Europe have either banned vending machines or restricted the products to healthier food types. Surely either removing all of them or only offering natural products is an immediate way to cut back on over eating at a young age. Who can blame a child for being tempted to have a chocolate bar when they end up walking past a vending machine full of them everyday? Even the best of us would struggle to exercise that self control a lot of the times so how can we expect a child to do so?
Most of the findings showed that schools supported the restrictions or recommendations related to the availability of fizzy beverages (65-82%), with the majority of them having free access to water. But this is something that could easily be improved.
Overall it seems that we might just have to get Jamie Oliver back in to save all of Europe and maybe even Sean T from the Insanity workouts to make sure our children are getting the exercise they need!