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Nation’s public schools join health campaign

The Department of Education has decided to do its part about a growing health problem in the country. Secretary of Education Leonor Briones issued a memorandum last March 17 to promote the long-lasting benefits of a healthy diet and improve the eating habits of students, teachers, and personnel of the department.

Fat-laden, high-sugar, and high-salt foods are now banned from school canteens in public elementary and high schools all over the country, including soft drinks, powdered juice drinks, fishballs and other deep-fried snacks. Instead they are to serve healthy alternatives such as milk, buko juice, boiled peanuts, and bananas.

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) workshop urged countries to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods in schools and increase the availability of healthy options. The United States has been cited as having too many obese people, especially children, due to the high sugar content of their diets.

A study in 2012 by the US government said there were 700,000 deaths from heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. An analysis of this and other surveys singled out certain foods and nutrients linked to the causes of death. Too much salt was said to be the biggest problem, as this increased blood pressure. Along with overeating processed meat and taking too much sugary drinks. The study recommended good food such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats, and seafood.

In the Philippines, a National Nutrition Survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute in 2014 showed that too many children were either underweight or overweight. This was blamed on their consumption of too much unhealthy food.

The home is where a national nutrition campaign should center, but the school has a big role to play as well, not only through lessons in the classroom but also in the food served in school canteens. With her memorandum this month, new Secretary of Education Briones has decided that henceforth, the nation’s public schools will take a bigger part in the continuing effort to promote the nation’s health.

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