Sunday, January 30, 2011

Green groups urge DepEd to promote safe school

GREEN group EcoWaste Coalition yesterday urged the Department of Education to take its ban on junk foods in schools to the next level through a nationwide program that will promote healthy and sustainable values and practices for the benefit of schoolchildren.

"While commending the ban on junk foods in schools, we urge the DepEd to go further by embarking on a holistic program that will promote a healthy school community that is conducive to well-rounded and well-balanced learning and development in schools," said Dr. Leah Samaco-Paquiz, EcoWaste secretary.

Paquiz made the appeal following a recommendation by the World Health Organization to ban junk foods in schools and playgrounds to promote a healthy diet and curb obesity among schoolkids.

WHO fell short of calling for a ban on advertising directed at children for foods high in saturated fats, sugars or salt, opting instead to ask member-states to "consider the most effective approach to reduce" such marketing.

The non-binding recommendations will be discussed in a high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in a general assembly in New York in September.

The WHO said some 43 million pre-school children worldwide are overweight and six out of 10 deaths every year are due to cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, with poor diet a common factor of the four main diseases.

Instead of just banning junk foods, EcoWaste called on Education Secretary Armin Luistro to consider a "National Healthy School Program" that will build on the ban and provide guidance on policies and regulations that will create a healthy and safe school enviroment.

Among the group’s policy recommendations were the revival of the school garden, non-toxic supplies, proper management of school-generated hazardous waste, no-smoking, no-lead, no-mercury, and a yearly search for "Healthy Schools."


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