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Diet, food and eating and the Health Promoting School

Diet, food and eating and the Health Promoting School

This eBook discusses the health promoting school. The world is in a time of economic crisis and change and concerns include the increase in health inequalities among children and young people, and a particular focus on how schools, working with families and local communities, can play an active role in challenging this trend. Food and eating, so basic to life, are in the modern context proving highly problematic in a range of ways. Obesity is the most obvious health related problem, bringing with it a host of serious medical and social problems, and is of epidemic proportions throughout the Western world. Childhood obesity, and its accompanying short and long term consequences such as bullying, self-image, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, affects low-income communities disproportionally. Obesity is, however, not the only food related issue and the overriding focus on diet and weight may even be contributing to the level of eating disorders and problems with body image that is growing rapidly across developed countries, particularly in the young. Schooling, which in many countries is compulsory, can be key in responding to these challenges. The health promoting school movement is thriving: at least 34, 000 schools in the WHO European Region were identified as health promoting schools in the 2012/2013 school year and the movement is worldwide. Health promoting schools use a whole-school approach to enhance the health and educational outcomes of children and adolescents through teaching and learning experiences initiated in the schools. They combine a range of complimentary approaches directed towards knowledge and action that enable individuals and communities to increase control over determinants of health. It is recognized that how children develop and how they behave in terms of their self-concept, self-efficacy and sense of control over their lives is strongly influenced by their years at school, and that positive experiences in the context of health promotion contribute to their independence, strength, social awareness, and psychosocial resilience. Diet, eating, food choices, and their connection with physical and mental health have long been a strong theme within the health promoting school movement. The papers in this eBook examine the interconnected and complex links between food choices, eating and wider aspects of children’s environment including children’s eating habits and preferences, the largely unhealthy options available to them in schools, particularly but not exclusively in low income neighbourhoods, and the association of unhealthy eating with not only low levels of physical activity but also, and less predictably, with poor school performance. Authors also explore some school related strategies to tackle these problems. The reasons why children and young people eat as they do are highly complex. They relate to the cost and availability of healthy foods, the actions of the food industry, media pressures to conform to a certain body type, the cultural transmission of dietary patterns, changes in family and peer group life that affect eating patterns and habits, and emotional and mental health issues such as poor self-image and mood. Some of these factors, and some suggested responses in the school context, are explored by the varied papers in this eBook but, as the papers make clear, there is much we still do not know, and the pressures on the young to eat unhealthily appear to be increasing. It is hoped that this eBook will both inform and kindle interest in some of the newer challenges ahead of us on this fundamental issue.


"Most of them are junk food but we did put fruit on there and we have water": What children can tell us about the food choices they make,A mobile farmers' market brings nutrition education to low-income students,Associations between grades and physical activity and food choices: Results from YRBS from a large urban school district,Diet, food and eating and the health promoting school,Food for thought: analysing the internal and external school food environment.,Impact of an intuitive eating education program on high school student's eating attitudes,Increasing primary school children's fruit and vegetable consumption: a review of the Food Dudes programme.,Interventions to increase free school meal take-up

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