The rise in obesity has seen increased focus on health and education to support children and young people in making healthier choices around food.
A healthy and balanced diet in childhood will contribute to reducing coronary heart disease, cancer and health inequalities as well as reducing the risk of anaemia and dental decay. I t is a key focus in recent Government policy.
Much work has also been undertaken by celebrities such as Jamie Oliver to improve the nutritional standard of school meals. As a result, schools must now comply with the National Food-Based Standards and Government’s Nutrient-Based Standards for school lunches (from September 2009 for secondary schools, special schools and Learning Centres).
More details on the new school food standards can be found at www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk
As part of the National Food in Schools Programme, DfES and Department of Health have developed a ‘food in schools toolkit’ to support schools in developing healthier eating and drinking practices. To download a copy of the toolkit, go to ,www.foodinschools.org
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the primary and secondary phase for teaching children about the issues related to food and nutrition. It is also important to explore the psychological aspects of food choice through the curriculum and to look at self image and self esteem.
A healthy eating theme may also support the extended school’s agenda in providing services beyond the school day. More information on extended schools can be found at www.teachernet.gov.uk