Last year the Independent reported that ‘there are over 91 million school children now defined as living with obesity’. Are schools somewhat to blame for this? Is there anything schools can do to improve children’s eating choices?
The importance of nutrition for children
The Conversation writes how eating habits which are formed during children’s teenage and younger years, often continues through to adulthood. This means that children who eat as a distraction from boredom or sadness may continue this habit as they grow up, leading to difficulties in later life. Many children, particularly those old enough to commute to school on their own, end up frequently spending their pocket money on confectionery, fizzy drinks, and takeaway food. Some believe that in the UK we live in a “obesogenic environment” where our surroundings encourage us to make poor eating decisions and not do enough exercise. In other words, it is easy for children to make poor food choices, carry these habits through, then face many of the consequences later in life.
What can schools do?
The culture around the school dining hall is complicated and many children find it an intimidating place. As a result, decision-making is not optimal as teens will often do whatever they can to fit in. This culture will be difficult to shift, however, there is certainly a gap of education where many don’t appreciate the implications of eating decisions. There must be a series of well-designed teaching, where children understand that what they eat impacts their mood, energy levels, performance and bodies.