Setting The Standard For Healthy Eating In Schools
McGuinty Government Puts Nutrition On The Menu
Ontario's new nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in schools will give our students healthier places to learn and help them perform better in school.
The nutrition standards make it easy for schools to determine which foods they can and cannot sell. Candy, energy drinks and fried foods are among the items that will no longer be sold in schools. In addition, 80 per cent of the new school menu must include products with the highest levels of essential nutrients and lowest amounts of fat, sugar and sodium. This includes fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grain breads. As well, 20 per cent of the new menu may include products that have slightly higher amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium. These items include bagels and cheese.
Twenty-eight per cent of Ontario children between the ages of two and 17 are overweight or obese -- putting them at risk of diseases including diabetes. Less than half of Ontario kids, ages 12-19, eat the recommended daily minimum of fruits and vegetables.
The nutrition standards are made possible by the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act, 2008.
The Act is a part of the government's overall strategy for healthy students. It also includes 20 minutes of daily activity in elementary schools and a recognition program for health-related school activities.
- Obesity costs the Ontario health care system approximately $1.6 billion annually.
- The introduction of the new nutrition standards today provides schools with the time they need to make the transition, as the standards will be mandatory across Ontario as of September 1, 2011.
- Five other provinces that have mandatory nutrition standards in schools are British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
- According to the Journal of School Health, students who ate healthy - and reduced their fat intake - performed better at school.
“Students who eat healthy have more energy to learn. Offering nutritious food and drinks in school is a great way to support their success.”
“A healthy mind depends on a healthy body. Students who eat right are better prepared to achieve in the classroom.”
“When our school board introduced nutrition standards in 2007, it was because we knew that a healthy diet would lead to more active and engaged students. The results have been outstanding.”