Childhood obesity has been on a steady rise over the past 30 years. This is detrimental to the health of young children and teens since it can lead to serious complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. It’s important to be proactive about their health and lay the foundations for healthy dietary choices among your students. Here’s a handy list of tips to get you started:
- Prioritise nutrition education. Invite relevant speakers to talk to your students and offer ways to make your school environment healthier. Members of your faculty should also consider taking a nutrition diploma course to help acquaint them with the basics of nutrition education.
- Give your students enough time to enjoy and eat their lunch. Make it easy for them to consume wholesome meals rather than junk food. The CDC recommends allowing at least 20 minutes for students to enjoy their meal and mingle with their peers.
- If possible, switch to a later start time for your school. This will give children more time to eat a hearty breakfast as well as get more sleep. Schools with later start times have been known to increase their students’ standardized test scores, boost overall performance, reduce absences, and improve memory.
- Make sure your school provides enough sources of rehydration for students. This means providing operational water fountains and refill stations, as well as cups and water pitchers in the cafeteria.
- Reduce portion sizes of meals in the cafeteria. Ensure that your school meals are offering the appropriate calorie needs for children according to their age, and nothing more.
- Replace unhealthy junk food with healthy choices. Limit or completely remove the presence of sugary drinks and snacks in the cafeteria. Substitute these options with fruits, vegetables, and healthy juices instead.
- Improve your physical and health education programs. These programs should be comprehensive and should keep your students engaged and active.
- Set strategic and attainable goals and parameters for your school cafeteria to follow. Prepare a thorough plan and list of guidelines that identify appropriate serving sizes, calories, and the recommended amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, and additives.
- Upgrade or phase out school cafeteria equipment that promotes unhealthy eating. For example, you can have a salad bar replace a deep fryer or a soda vending machine.
- Support the construction of a school garden. From this garden, you can implement a farm-to-school program that allows you to incorporate fresher food options into your cafeteria meals.
- Allow for more time outside the classroom. This includes offering short breaks that aren’t just for eating, but for exercising too. If your budget allows, you can plan more field trips or outdoor classes.
- Encourage your faculty to set a good example. Make sure they’re eating healthy too and following the standards you set out for your students.
- Provide adequate fitness equipment, playground facilities, and walking paths. An appropriate environment like this can influence physical activity.
- Furnish your campus with bike racks. This will persuade both staff and students to ride bikes to and from school.
- Involve your students in planning and decision-making. Listen to their suggestions for what types of healthy food they’ll be willing to eat and what kinds of physical activities they want to experience.
These tips will help students make healthier choices that they’ll implement into their daily lives. Let your school be a good starting point for proper physical and mental healthcare.