Children’s health: strategising to win the war against junk food

Schools should stop providing empty-calorie fare of little nutritional value, and instead offer students attractive, healthy ‘rewards’, writes Ruth Benny.

The Education Bureau (EDB) has various schemes to encourage healthy eating in schools. April 2015 is “Joyful Fruit Month”, and the campaigns Startsmart and Eatsmart aim to educate students as well as parents and teachers.

In the local curriculum, the general studies and physical education syllabi include topics on healthy living, starting in K1. This is largely replicated in international schools too.

Schools are making an effort to teach students about making healthy food choices, but in the end it still does come down to parents and children.

Chris Lord, head of food technology at Island School of English Schools Foundation (ESF), says: “Pupils can choose to bring in their own food from home, and while the caterers do still offer less healthy options, the pupils can only be given the information and hopefully, they will make the right choices.”

Two caterers, Chartwells and Sodexo, have contracts with most international schools to serve hot lunches. Both companies serve good quality food and also offer education sessions to students and parents. Yet, many schools have no provision for hot lunches and instead students bring lunch from home.