Obesity on the curriculum

LAST week we asked whether, given growing concerns about childhood obesity, school canteens should stock only healthy food.

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Jackie Taylor, a reader from Buderim in Queensland:

“Schools are the educators of our children. Education is not only the three R’s etc, but lifestyle. Good diet and nutrition should be a part of this education and should be reinforced by the school canteens. That seems to be plain common sense.”

Kate Cheng, who works at the West Australian Department of Education, from Fremantle:

“I understand the growing concern (international panic?) about obesity and health, but nutritionists for the school canteen?

“Most canteen volunteers are parents of the school children and would certainly be aware of nutrition and healthy eating.

“Most of the research on this tells us it’s not the food, it’s that we’re eating way too much and it’s the lack of exercise.”

Paul Weaver, a parent of nine children from Palmyra in Perth:

“(Our children) always take a cut lunch prepared at home. Two sandwiches for the big ones and one for the little ones, plus something for playlunch, such as a piece of fruit.

“Due to the cost, family trips to fast-food outlets don’t happen. Birthday parties thrown at these places by other families usually ensure two or three burgers a year. We have no concerns about these indulgences. Nor have we ever felt the need to ban anything from their diet.

“Why are our kids not overweight? Without exception all of them usually walk or ride to school. Kids who walk or ride bikes to school are a minority.

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“We always escort our primary school kids back and forth for fear of predators and dangerous drivers. I suspect these are significant reasons why so many parents take children to school in cars. Parental fear of predators may be a significant contributor to child obesity.

“Nutritional police have been interfering with school canteens for a long time, and at our primary school have imposed a ban on peanut butter, lest some unknown allergic waif be affected. Where should it end?

“Vegemite and cheese has also had its critics because of the salt content.

“We chose to bypass the canteens and give our kids everything at one time or another. Why don’t more parents make lunch for their kids? It is not that hard.”

Next week Forum asks:

Should students from secular government schools be provided with some form of religious education?

What do you think?