21 September 2006
Community attitudes to diet and exercise key to change
Government moves to regulate the food sold in school canteens to address growing obesity rates will only succeed if community attitudes towards diet and exercise change, PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti said today.
She said the Government’s package of school-based initiatives was laudable and built on existing initiatives such as health promoting schools (HPS).
“PPTA supports the idea of healthier food in canteens, a youth forum, student health promotion and lifestyle ambassadors to encourage healthier eating, and support for teachers to strengthen and improve food and nutrition education.
“We are also pleased that the school initiatives form part of a wider campaign to address obesity, Mission On.
“There are ever increasing expectations on teachers and schools to address a wide range of community problems within the school gates. Good diet and regular exercise need to be part of what happens outside school as well.”
On the downside, schools may not appreciate a change to the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs) given the call from the sector for reducing compliance costs.
Schools would also be worried about the potential loss of canteen income from the changeover to healthier food.
“Students will go off site to get the food they are used to. They don’t change their diets immediately and the risk is that teachers become the food police.”
Te Whaiti said many of the initiatives needed input and fine-tuning from the sector.
“This is a positive start but obesity won’t be addressed overnight.”