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Write about the nutrition education in public schools.

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Rationale

Nutrition education is one of the major public health strategies that are implemented in prevention of diseases. The whole idea of healthy living is pinned on the nutrition we provide to our bodies. Disorders associated with nutrition are known as malnutrition disorders. They may be over nutrition or undernutrition disorders. The over nutritional disorders such as obesity are more common in Western Countries, Canada being one of them. Nutritional education is thus an essential subject that should be taught in schools to cater for the nutritional challenges. According to Godin (96) most of the lifestyle diseases are influences partly by the eating habits and the types of foods even in school children.

In epidemiology of some disease conditions, it can be noted that some geographical regions have a higher prevalence to some diseases than others. The standards and quality of nutrition usually has a major bearing and may be considered a risk factors. High cholesterol diet foods in some urban settings have implicated with causing cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis. Cancers have been associated with associated with canned foods. The importance of nutritional education cannot be overlocked. Cultivating a healthy habit in nutrition practices can be done through schools (Vine, et al, 331-339). It’s an important public health intervention. This paper has will cover nutrition education program in public schools in Canada, the rationale, the policies put in place and their impacts.

 Diet related disease have been a major concern within the Canadian population; including the children. (Lucan, 205-212.) A large population of Canadians has been found to consume very high amounts of calories, too much saturated fat and added sugars. The diets are deficient or with very little amounts of legumes and fruits.  This particular lifestyle predisposes he general population to many preventable diseases or whose course of progression could be altered if the proper nutrition is provided. In the case of a disease like diabetes, complications associated with it can be reduced with diets that do not significantly cause a peak in the blood sugar (Sun, et al. 404-421).

 In the case of school children, there has been a sharp increase in the cases of obesity. This is a nutritional disorder that is largely influenced by the diet habits. Large calories diets have been attributed to this condition (Lebel, 16). The body converts excess calories into fat which is deposited beneath the skin. There has been established a causal relationship between many disease conditions and obesity. Obesity has been identified as a major risk factor in heart and cardiovascular diseases (Hanninen and Rashid, 465-465). There has been association with reduced immunity and a reduced life expectancy.

In order to have an edge on the situation, nutritional education in public school was rolled out by the government. It is very rational to enroll children in such a program in order because it is economical as it will significantly reduce the expenditure in treating such conditions (Abdullah, 167). By extension, it is a way of dealing with a future impending catastrophe. Some of the diseases have a long progression and present later in life. It is economical both in the short term and the long term.

The Policy

Implementing the program would be the best way to reverse a trend that has taken root. Children are more receptive to knowledge especially at a tender age. Integration of nutrition education is a way of providing knowledge that is practical in real life (Yip, et al. 82-97). This provides a basis of introducing a habit that will influence the behavior and the culture in general. It will address some of the nutritional problems identified in schools.

Some provincial schools in Canada have laid down policies to address the issue of nutrition and promote healthy living among the children that attend them (Godin, et al. 138). These measures, if strictly followed will have a good outcome. An example of a policy formulated is one of Brunswick schools (Hernandez, et al. 208-229). The goal was to implement a coordinated and comprehensive food and nutrition policy. All school food services should adhere to guidelines such as: provide as variety of the four food groups, low fat dairy and food prepared with little or no fat. Low sugar foods also emphasized. Students should be provided with a variety to choose from to facilitate development of healthy food habits.

Promotion of a nutrition education should be a continuous process where the school food service program would reinforce what was taught in class. Food security was also another component of the policy. A plan to provide food for students whom arrive at school without food or have no means to obtain it (Colley, et al. 1-8). This addresses the issue of under nutrition. The responsibility of administering the policy rests on the districts with the assistance of the department of education and the department of health and community service.

Majority of the provinces in Canada have implemented policies supporting healthy food environment in schools (Veugelers, et. al, 7). British Columbia implemented the guidelines in 2005 which were updated in 2013 regarding the sale of foods in high schools. This involves categorization of foods into three groups. The first is selling most which include healthy foods; the second choice less healthy with little nutrients and don’t sell for foods high in sodium and fat. Ontario pronvince guidelines were passed in 2011 which categorizes groups into selling healthy food 80% of occurrences,20% selling less healthy food and unhealthy foods should not be sold for sale. New Brunswick implemented a formal nutrition policy which dictates that healthy foods should be promoted and sold in the canteen and cafeteria while their price is made affordable. Unhealthy foods should not be sold during events in the schools. Nova Scotia policy for its public schools is foods with maximum nutrition are sold daily while those with moderate nutrition should not be sold more than twice in a week. Newfoundland &Labrador policy on nutrition in public schools came to place in 2008 stating that all foods sold in the school must come from maximum nutrients group (Jeffery, 40).

These policies have played an important role in ensuring the children in public schools have nutritious meals with low sugars and saturated trans fats which have been attributed to obesity and heart diseases. They ensure that the foods consumed by school going children are healthy and produce required amounts of kilocalories for energy spent in school.

Effectiveness of The Policies.

There is little accountability on the implementation of the policies in the schools. There is minimal information regarding the procedure on which schools are following to ensure the nutrients criteria according to the various policies are met (Micha, et al, 27). Some policies don’t elaborate the specific nutritional information regarding the sugar and fat content the meals may contain. This makes it vague to determine which foods fall under various categories such as the healthy, less healthy. The Northern territories have not established any policies yet hence allowing unhealthy foods in the school environment. The provinces don’t fund healthy foods programs in schools making it difficult to implement the policies (Mullally, et al,42).

The first question regarding this topic is whether there can be an improvement in the quality of foods available in schools in terms of nutrients, sugar and salt content and fat levels (Taylor, et al, 24). This means that the availability of junk and unhealthy food relates to cheaper foods but is there anyone who is willing to pay the price for the health of school going children. This is a challenge to the provincial governments and the ministry of health to fund these programs to boost their success.

The second question is on the least unhealthy foods are there efforts to minimize saturated fats, sugar and salt content, the preservatives to promote healthier living. These substances have been associated with heart diseases, obesity, and cancers. There should be a regulatory body limiting the amounts of these substances in the foods exposed to the students and population in general.

Conclusion

It is commonly said that we are what we consume and this statement reflects strongly as there is an increased occurrence of non-communicable attributed to unhealthy foods. There is a need to teach the students on the maintenance of proper nutrition by consuming healthy foods to ensure a healthy future.

References

Abdullah, Mohammad MH, et al. "Cost-of-illness analysis reveals potential healthcare savings with reductions in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease following recommended intakes of dietary fiber in Canada." Frontiers in pharmacology6 (2015): 167.

Colley, Paige, et al. "The Impact of Canadian School Food Programs on Children’s Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review." Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research80 (2018): 1-8. Micha, Renata, et al. "Effectiveness of school food environment policies on children’s dietary behaviors: A systematic review and meta-analysis." PloS one 13.3 (2018):26-32.

Godin, Katelyn M., et al. "Food Purchasing Behaviors and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption among Canadian Secondary School Students in the COMPASS Study." Journal of nutrition education and behavior (2018).

Godin, Katelyn, et al. "Applying systematic review search methods to the grey literature: a case study examining guidelines for school-based breakfast programs in Canada." Systematic reviews 4.1 (2015): 138.

Hanninen, S., and M. Rashid. "A323 INVESTIGATION OF THE NUTRITION CURRICULUM IN THE UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION PROGRAM OF A CANADIAN MEDICAL SCHOOL." Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology 1.suppl_2 (2018): 465-465.

Hernandez, Kimberley, et al. "The case for a Canadian national school food program." Canadian Food Studies/La Revue canadienne des études sur l'alimentation 5.3 (2018): 208-229.

Jeffery, B., and A. Leo. "School nutrition policies across Canada: are schools making the grade." Retrieved June 9 (2013): 2009:38-43

Lebel, Alexandre, et al. "Sugar sweetened beverage consumption among primary school students: Influence of the schools’ vicinity." Journal of environmental and public health2016 (2016).

Lucan, Sean C. "Concerning limitations of food-environment research: a narrative review and commentary framed around obesity and diet-related diseases in youth." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 115.2 (2015): 205-212.

Mullally, Megan L., et al. "A province-wide school nutrition policy and food consumption in elementary school children in Prince Edward Island." Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante'e Publique (2010): 40-43.

Sun, Yu, et al. "The effectiveness and cost of lifestyle interventions including nutrition education for diabetes prevention: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 117.3 (2017): 404-421.

Taylor, Jennifer P., Susan Evers, and Mary McKenna. "Determinants of healthy eating in children and youth." Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante'e Publique (2012): S20-S26.

Veugelers, Paul J., and Margaret E. Schwartz. "Comprehensive school health in Canada." Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante'e Publique (2010): S5-S8.

Vine, Michelle M., and Susan J. Elliott. "Exploring the school nutrition policy environment in Canada using the ANGELO framework." Health promotion practice 15.3 (2014): 331-339.

Yip, Calvin, et al. "Peer-led nutrition education programs for school-aged youth: a systematic review of the literature." Health education research 31.1 (2015): 82-97.

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