Obesity: Malta to lead development of voluntary procurement guidelines for schools
On the occasion of Tuesday’s World Obesity Day the government yesterday pledged that since childhood obesity is one of the main health priorities for Malta’s Presidency of the Council of Europe, Malta will lead the development of a voluntary procurement guideline for schools. The overarching goal of this priority is to contribute to halting the rise in obesity in children and young people.
Malta, the government said, is working closely with a group of technical experts across member states to develop technical specifications for the procurement of healthy food in schools.
By the end of Malta’s EU Presidency, a document with clear guidelines for the use of public procurers on a voluntary basis will be developed, the government said.
These guidelines will help procures in their issue of tenders to buy healthy food for school children. This is one of the deliverables envisaged for Malta’s EU Presidency priority to help reverse the ever increasing trend in childhood obesity.
Malta, like the majority of countries in the developed world, is facing an increase in the prevalence of obesity.
The Ministry for Health has set up an inter-ministerial advisory committee on Healthy Lifestyle and Non Communicable diseases, with the main aim being to shift the living environment from an obesogenic environment to one that promotes healthy choices and a healthy weight.
The health authorities are also reinforcing a leading role to support initiatives in halting the obesity rise in line with the Healthy Weight for Life Strategy, Breastfeeding Policy, Food and Nutrition Action Plan and the Whole of School Approach to a Healthy Lifestyle Strategy.
Action being carried out which decrease the rise in childhood obesity include:
National awareness-raising and education campaigns on healthy eating and physical activity on a regular basis, targeting both the general population as well as specific population groups.
Initiatives encouraging development of the skills required for behaviour change which focuses on cooking healthy meals for the family within a budget.
Ongoing School Fruit Scheme in line with the Mediterranean diet.
Lunchbox campaign: The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate have teamed up with the Education Authorities to launch a campaign to encourage healthier lunchboxes.
The regulation of school tuckshops through respective tender agreements is in line with current healthy dietary recommendations. A list of permissible foods and non-permissible foods has been distributed to all schools, whilst health inspectors review school tuck shops to ensure compliance.