Na­tional School Nutri­tion Pol­icy be­ing fi­nalised, says Reid

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - NEWS - — JIS

THE Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion is fi­nal­is­ing de­vel­op­ment of the pro­posed Na­tional School Nutri­tion Pol­icy.

Port­fo­lio Min­is­ter Se­na­tor Ruel Reid said work to de­velop the pol­icy, which aims to pro­mote healthy eat­ing and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity in schools, par­tic­u­larly among stu­dents, was ini­tially slated for com­ple­tion this month.

“But we still have some fine-tun­ing [to do]. As such, we de­cided to roll out the re­stric­tion of sug­ary drinks be­fore,” he said.

The min­is­ter was speak­ing at a fo­rum on ‘Sug­ars, Other Car­bo­hy­drates and Fats — Their Con­tri­bu­tion to Obe­sity… and Ef­fec­tive Solutions’, at the Span­ish Court Ho­tel, New Kingston, on Jan­uary 11.

Se­na­tor Reid said the pol­icy seeks to im­prove the nu­tri­tional sta­tus of chil­dren and sup­port their long-term phys­i­cal and psy­choso­cial de­vel­op­ment.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he said it forms part of the Gov­ern­ment’s broader ap­proach to pro­mot­ing healthy choices in and out of school for chil­dren and youth, by equip­ping them with the req­ui­site knowl­edge and skills to make bet­ter de­ci­sions re­gard­ing diet and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

“It is only fit­ting that this is done, as our min­istry has di­rect con­tact with the chil­dren who will, in turn, be­come adults,” the min­is­ter stated.

Mean­while, Se­na­tor Reid said the Na­tional School Nutri­tion Stan­dards, be­ing de­vel­oped by the Min­istry of Health, will sup­port im­ple­men­ta­tion of the nutri­tion-re­lated as­pects of the pol­icy.

It will out­line the rec­om­mended nu­tri­ent stan­dards for meals; non-meal items, such as snacks; and bev­er­ages.

The stan­dards will, even­tu­ally, be in­cor­po­rated into the ex­ist­ing Na­tional School Feed­ing Pro­gramme.

“It is about be­hav­iour change. By ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren who, through our ‘Zero to Thirteen Strat­egy’, we are able to reach from con­cep­tion, it will en­gen­der a cul­ture where mak­ing wise health de­ci­sions be­come the norm,” Se­na­tor Reid said.

He pointed out that the Gov­ern­ment spends more than $170 mil­lion an­nu­ally to treat non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, the four ma­jor risk fac­tors for which are phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity, un­healthy eat­ing, harm­ful use of al­co­hol, and to­bacco use.

Data from the 2008 Ja­maica Health and Life­style Sur­vey in­di­cate that less than 20 per cent of Ja­maicans con­sume fast food more than once per week.

This is in sharp con­trast to the more than 75 per cent of Ja­maicans who con­sume more than one sweet­ened bev­er­age daily.

The fo­rum, hosted by the Heart Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica, ex­plored the ex­tent to which ex­cess salt, sug­ars, fats, and ul­tra-pro­cessed foods im­pact weight man­age­ment and good health.

(Photo: JIS)

Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion, Youth and In­for­ma­tion Se­na­tor Ruel Reid and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Heart Foun­da­tion of Ja­maica, Deb­o­rah Chen, pe­ruse de­tails on the la­bel of a bev­er­age bot­tle dur­ing a fo­rum on ‘Sug­ars, Other Car­bo­hy­drates and Fats — Their Con­tri­bu­tion to Obe­sity... and Ef­fec­tive Solutions’, at the Span­ish Court Ho­tel in New Kingston on Jan­uary 11.

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