Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Students prefer junk food to fruits, yoghurt in school canteens

Junk Food
A majority of students wants junk food and soft drinks in school canteens, despite the Supreme Education Council (SEC) trying to wean them away from unhealthy food, a recent survey shows.

The survey conducted by the SEC focusing on school canteens in Independent schools has shown that over 52 percent of the students don’t want fruits and vegetables in school canteens, while 45 percent of don’t like milk, yoghurt and other diary products.

Reflecting a clear lack of awareness about health and nutrition, a high number of students — over 26 per cent — expressed their preference for junk food, chips and soft drinks — that remain banned in school canteens.

The survey sought to assess the impact of the School Canteen Guide issued by the SEC last year on improving the performance of canteens and creating health awareness among students.

While launching the Guide, the SEC had said that that it would put an end to complaints about high prices of meals in school canteens, while ensuring supply of healthy food in schools under the supervision of specialised administrative and health entities.

The Guide has made it mandatory for caterers to provide milk, water, fruits and vegetables to children on a daily basis. A menu list, with prices of each item was also issued with the Guide.

The survey carried out between May 15 and May 26 covered a total of 2,022 Independent school students, 41 members of the canteen supervision committees in 12 schools, 106 parents and 19 catering company staff.

The survey found that 75 percent of students were buying food from school canteens on a regular basis, at least three times a week. Majority of the students found the prices reasonable since about 60 percent of them were getting a pocket money of at least
QR5 daily.

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