Up to now, vending machines have been short on nutrition and large on size. But thatí s about to change with the implementation of a new policy on vended foods in elementary schools in Ontario. Dietitians of Canada (DC) has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Education to develop a set of guidelines for school boards that will support schools to practice what they preach, that is, ensure that foods made available to children within the school premises model what is taught in the classroom about healthy eating.
Food at school is a key contributor to childrenís nutritional intake. Roughly one-third of a childís food intake for the day occurs during the school day. Vending machines typically do not provide a variety of foods from each food group, and healthy food choices such as higher fibre, lower fat grain products, vegetables and fruit are missing in most vending machines.
DC also recommends that portion sizes of foods should be consistent with CFGHE or reference amounts as specified in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising, Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Super-sizing has made inroads into vended products, which can provide a significant amount of energy to a childís daily diet; over time this excess energy intake may be a contributing cause of childhood obesity.
While the guidance focuses on food sold through vending machines, Dietitians of Canada supports the provision of healthier foods in all school meal and snack programs and believes that variety, moderation and balance are the keys to healthy eating.
DC encourages the education sector to continue to develop food policies along with implementation guidelines that consider the roles of, and impact on, all stakeholders ñ parents, children, teachers, school administrators, public health personnel, as well as the food industry.
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