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Global obesity crisis, its time to start teaching nutrition in our schools.

The World Obesity Federation's 2023 atlas predicts that 51% of the world, or more than 4 billion people, will be obese or overweight within the next 12 years.

Rates of obesity are rising particularly quickly among children. 55% of obese children go on to become obese adults. Nutrition needs to be compulsory in schools.

In an article written by UK Nutritionist Joshua Clamp, he sums why nutritional education represents a key step in improving the diets and health of primary school pupils.

Benefits of nutrition education in primary schools

Behaviours, beliefs and attitudes start to develop at a young age, meaning intervention during these years offers a valuable opportunity to positively shape the lives of children, and in doing so shape the cultures and beliefs of future societies. For nutrition to be a positive, prioritised part of this society and culture, it should be ingrained in such a way that it can be shared and explored. Schools are a setting for the delivery of structured learning, and simultaneously offer an arena for the exploration of food and nutrition, in which pupils can develop behaviours, beliefs and attitudes. They are one of the main social contexts in which lifestyle habits are developed, meaning food should therefore be part of this picture. Simultaneously, a key responsibility of primary schools is to equip children with the life skills and capacity to support their wellbeing. Given the vital role of nutrition in a healthy, fulfilled life, nutrition education must not be overlooked.

More widely, schools provide a perfect platform for action, through a ready-made learning environment, facilities for physical activity and food service as well as the opportunity for engagement with peers, parents and teachers. Furthermore, schools are a well-equipped vehicle for nutrition education as they provide opportunities to practise healthy eating and food safety through school feeding programmes, and through the sale of food on premises.

Nutrition lessons can be made simple, interesting, colourful and easily learned by demonstration, illustration and practical action – approaches which are valuable in primary school settings. Moreover, primary school nutrition education can go beyond improving the knowledge, and even health of students. It has the potential to empower students to become active participants and future leaders in shaping the food environment and food systems that are better able to deliver healthy and sustainable diets.

Blogger Max Galka created this animated map for his Metrocosm site.

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