NBMS statement on updated school nutrition policy
The New Brunswick Medical Society is concerned with the unhealthy lifestyle choices among children that are contributing to the obesity epidemic. Obesity and diabetes in children have been on the rise over the last 10 years, prompting physicians to be concerned with the unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity that are contributing to these challenges.
Health Canada says that obesity is directly linked to a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. With seven-out-of-ten New Brunswickers being overweight or obese, more needs to be done to address this issue and instill healthy habits at a young age. Schools often normalize high-sugar consumption, through offering many sugar-sweetened items in their cafeterias. Chocolate milk, which is a popular choice among kids, has three and a half teaspoons of added sugar (per 250 ml of milk), whereas white milk has no added sugar. To address this, the NBMS would like to work with the government to create balanced guidelines that encourage physical activity, teach children to consume healthy and nutritious foods, and learn to moderate their consumption of high-sugar and treat items.
Physicians are seeing an increasing number of children and at increasingly younger ages come to them to because of diseases caused by unhealthy eating. For this reason, healthy habits need to be encouraged at a young age, before these diseases begin developing as a result of unhealthy lifestyles. Through community partnerships, including with schools, farmers, and parents, we can encourage students to value healthy and local foods, to moderate their consumption of unhealthy items, and increase their physically activity. The NBMS looks forward to continued collaboration with the government and hopes that future policies will consider the health and well-being of children, including encouragement for healthy eating and exercise.