Primary schools are making good progress in adopting healthy eating education, according to health minister Jonathan Coleman and education minister Hekia Parata.
“One in three New Zealand school children are either obese or overweight, and more than a third are inactive,” says Dr Coleman.
“That’s why the government launched the Childhood Obesity Plan. New Zealand is now one of the few countries in the OECD to have a target and a comprehensive plan to tackle childhood obesity.
“We know children in the most deprived areas are three times as likely to be obese. The plan includes a target of signing up 150 new deciles one to four primary schools to the Health Promoting Schools programme over two years.”
Since the plan was launched in October last year, 94 new schools have signed up with a total of 90 per cent of deciles one to four primary schools on board.
Health Promoting Schools involves the Ministry of Health working with the school community to address their health and wellbeing priorities.
“As young people spend approximately a third of their waking hours during the school term at school, schools have an important role to play in influencing their physical activity and food choices,” says Ms Parata.
“By encouraging the wider school community to get involved we’ve seen schools embrace some exciting and innovative changes which are having a positive impact on the students.
“For example, Lakeview School in the Wairarapa identified getting active while having fun as a priority. This led to the parents helping to build a 540 metre bike track which includes a skills section.
“Mahora School in Hastings identified that healthier food options were needed. They’ve made a number of changes including offering stickers instead of chocolate bars and introducing ‘brain food time’ during which kids are encouraged to eat fruit.”