How Canadian Schools Are Teaching Kids To Eat Better

Average nutrition scores of school kids in Canada have shot up significantly, recording a 13% increase in 2015 compared to 2004.

Research conducted by the University of British Columbia's Food, Nutrition and Health program included parents of more than 7,000 students aged six to 17. And they concluded that the average nutrition scores of a kid during the school-day has improved from 51.3 points to 58.0 points out of 100.

The major factors contributing to this increase are the rise in consumption of fruits and vegetables, the decrease in the intake of sugary beverages, and the minimum consumption of cookies and chips.“It was definitely good news," said Tugault-Lafleur, the lead author of the study conducted by the University of British Columbia's Food, Nutrition and Health program.

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A fair understanding of the consumption pattern of school kids has played a pivotal role in formulating the broader health strategies of the nation. It has been noticed in the earlier years that kids' diet quality overall during the school hours was below the optimal level. Dairy products intake was minimal during school hours and approximately 23% of the calorie intake during school hours was comprised of food that is not included in the four core groups identified by the Canadian Food Guide.

Schools are one of the ideal places to teach healthy eating habits. The Canadian health department has realized it and has formulated a healthy eating strategy that encompasses .an improved food environment and protects the vulnerable population.

Health promotion strategies involving schools target lunch meals that meet the dietary requirements for all children, especially adolescents. Recommendations include food that has high protein content, whole grain food, plenty of leafy vegetables, and water as the primary choice of drink.

In addition to health promotions, provinces in Canada have restricted the availability of food containing saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Such steps will surely decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases in the long run.

Food consumed during school hours is almost one-third of the total calorie intake in a day for children. Shainhouse observes the quality of dietary intake in Canadian school students during the hours in school have shown improvement over the years. And a more balanced amount of Vitamin A, D, calcium and milk products during school hours has been observed throughout the provinces.

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Teachers are a great resource for teaching kids healthy habits, and the impact is greater when it's done creatively. "For instance if we do something where we're eating brown rice instead of white rice … they realize that they like it and they actually go home and influence what their parents are going to be purchasing," Shainhouse said.

Dr. Catherine Pound, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario who wasn't involved in the research, also added that for better learning, kids need to have a full tummy. After all nutrition impacts learning, brain development, and the overall health of a person.

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