In a statement released in time for the biennial “National School Health and Nutrition Congress” of the Department of Education (DepEd) on May 28-30, the EcoWaste Coalition drew the delegates’ attention to the urgent need to step up a nationwide campaign against foods high in fat, sugar and salt to combat obesity and trash.
“We expect the school health and nutrition specialists to take notice of obesity and diet-related diseases among children,” Ofelia Panganiban of the EcoWaste Coalition said, adding that “an animated year-round campaign on obesity should inform teachers, parents and students about its connection with junk food diet and the need to cut down on junk.”
“A DepEd-led campaign for junk-free ‘baon’ will ensure school community appreciation for healthy balanced diet and will definitely contribute in shaping mentally alert, emotionally equipped, physically fit and environmentally responsible students, while minimizing junk food trash like plastic wrappers and other disposable packaging materials,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.
Health and nutrition experts have cautioned against a diet heavy on processed foods that tends to contain excessive fat, sugar and salt, which can lead to micronutrient deficiencies and obesity and badly affect a child’s concentration, learning capabilities and overall development. Junk-based diet can also set the foundations for high blood pressure and heart disease later in life.
A healthy and waste-free “baon,” explained the EcoWaste Coalition, should be packed in a clean and reusable container and should contain the essential nutrients that will help improve the child’s concentration, performance and learning such as complex carbohydrates for energy, protein for attentiveness, calcium for healthy bones and teeth, and vitamins and minerals from hale and hearty development.
Echoing the DepEd Health and Nutrition Center, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school canteens to serve affordable nutritious food, especially those fortified with micronutrients, since some parents may not be able to prepare home-made “baon” for their children and instead provide their kids with snack or lunch money.
Information obtained from Consumers International indicates that some 22 million children under the age of five worldwide are already overweight or obese, and that unhealthy diets are a major cause of diabetes, heart disease and some cancers in low and middle-income countries, including the Philippines.
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