New healthy lunch policy launched

27 percent of children in senior infants in the west are overweight or obese, according to a recent study carried out by HSE West. In an effort to combat childhood obesity, HSE West this week launched a new health lunch policy for schools. The study was carried out by in Mayo in 2005 by a Public Health Specialist, Dr. Marita Glacken. It found that 30 percent of girls were overweight or obese and 25 percent of boys. As a response to this study, the Community Nutrition & Dietetic service in HSE developed a pack to help parents, school nurses and schools in dealing with obesity and this resulted in the launch of a health eating pack for primary schools in County Roscommon, which was launched on Wednesday last, 19th September in the Abbey Hotel. The Pack includes guidelines on setting up a healthy lunch policy, tips for parents, support leaflets for schools and an information pack for school nurses. School Principals and Public Health Nurses attended the launch of the Healthy Eating Pack on Wednesday in the Abbey Hotel. The Guide for Schools includes information about nutrition, why schools should promote healthy behaviour, what schools can do to encourage healthy eating habits, the role of parents in promoting healthy lifestyles, and what can be done if you have concerns about a child’s eating habits. The Guide for Families has advice on what to do if you have a child that is overweight, what parents can do to encourage healthy lifestyles and nutrition tips. Ruth Kilcawley, Senior Community Dietitian, HSE West, said: Children need to eat a variety of foods every day to be healthy. Parents can give children a healthy school lunch that tastes great and is good for them too. Many parents say one of the major problems with school lunches is when children come back home with them uneaten! To avoid this, parents should try to give their children some choice about what they take for lunch, and if possible, get them involved with preparing the healthier foods.