IRELAND: The Minister for Education is to advise schools on the appropriate use of tuck-shops and vending machines in order to promote healthy eating.
Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, together with the Department of Health, and other key stakeholders will develop guidelines on the best way for schools to promote healthy eating.
The move follows the publication of the second “Lifeskills” Survey, which was conducted in 2012. The first Lifeskills Survey was conducted in 2009.
The survey highlighted areas of concern including the availability of vending machines that sell ‘junk’ food, rather than healthy alternatives in many Irish post-primary schools.
“The vast majority of our primary schools are doing great work when it comes to promoting healthy eating during the school day. These efforts are vital in our efforts to tackle the growing problem of obesity. I would like to see this good work continue into the post-primary sector,” Minister Quinn said.
The Minister also applauded the continued support of teachers towards promoting physical activity outside of school hours. He said he could not dictate what food or junk foods schools sold through vending machines but he believed the Department of Health could work with them to include and promote healthy alternatives and information, so that young people could make better, more informed choices.
He plans to issue advice to schools via a circular shortly.
Almost all schools surveyed (99%) reported that they have an anti-bullying policy in place and that their students know what to do in the event of a bullying incident occurring.
The survey also highlighted that the vast majority of post primary schools are still not meeting the recommended two hours per week for physical Education (PE), with more than 90% in junior and senior cycle not meeting the recommended two hours.
“The results from the 2012 Lifeskills Survey highlight the positive work that is being undertaken in many schools towards equipping students with the essential that will enable them to live healthily and to cope with the many demands and pressures they may face both within and outside of the education system,” the Minister concluded.
The next Lifeskills survey is scheduled for 2015 and is expected to include some mechanism for capturing student feedback.
The Lifeskills survey is available here on the Department’s website
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