29 September 2019
By Bryan Smyth
A national healthy eating audit of school canteens should be carried out to ensure students have healthy choices at school, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Colm Burke said: “A study conducted by UCD and DCU researchers which looked at canteens in a select number of schools, has raised issues of great concern in relation to healthy choices in our schools.
“We cannot underestimate the importance of educating our young people about the need to eat healthily but we also need to ensure that they have options available to them that matches that education.
“The profits of catering companies should not come before the health of our young people and I believe there are ways to ensure that this is not the case.
“But we must understand the scope of what we are dealing with.
“Young people are more aware of the need to protect and promote their mental and physical health than previous generations, but we must recognise that we have an issue with children being obese or overweight, something that affects around one in four children.
“Children who are obese are more likely to be obese adults, which has long-term effects on their health.
“Responding to this challenge will require a response from our schools, parents and our health service.
“We are arming our children with the correct information about nutrition and food, and we have excellent initiatives such as the Food Dudes programme to encourage primary school children to eat more fruit and vegetables. But there must be follow through. We must make it easier for schools to ensure that their healthy eating policies are achievable,” Senator Burke concluded.