Ask a Nutritionist: Q and As on Nutrition and School Kids…

Q1. Should schools have a say which foods the children should bring to the school? Why?

Yes. With one in three children in year 6 now overweight or obese we need to start seeing combined efforts from parents, schools, health professionals, the food industry and the Government in order to make a change. Schools have a significant role to play in reducing obesity and improving the diets of children. By helping to control what foods children are consuming during one or two meals of the day (as well as educating parents and children on what foods are and are not nutritionally adequate) schools may be able to have a positive impact on the health and even the weight of these children.

Q2. Do you think parents should have a stronger influence on their children’s nutrition? How do you think they are able to do this?

Parental influence is extremely significant. We know that overweight parents are likely to have overweight children and therefore this is an area that needs much improvement. Unfortunately we live in an ‘obesogenic’ society and consuming unhealthy, high calorie foods as well as being sedentary is the default behaviour for many people. Parents certainly have the power to influence their child’s eating behaviour and activity levels but this needs to be instilled from a young age. Educating parents on the importance of a healthy weight and a healthy diet are some of the ways this could be improved, however, little change will occur without alterations to the way the food industry markets their food to children and families and without tighter Government regulations or without a united healthy eating message from health professionals.

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