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Child obesity: healthy food for schools guidance

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Child obesity: healthy food for schools guidance

Swedish school lunch - Photo By Casey Lehman.jpg

(BRUSSELS) - The European Commission and Maltese Presidency presented Wednesday a valuable new resource to help public procurement authorities implement healthy food standards in schools.

The report, presented at a meeting on strategies to address childhood obesity, provides technical guidance on, for example, how to draft clear specifications on foods and food services to be procured, which is intended to support EU countries in their efforts to provide healthy food in schools.

While currently focused on the school setting, the technical guidance outlined in this report could potentially pave the way to encourage the publication of a series of other similar publications focusing on other specific food settings, such as work canteens, elderly homes, hospitals and prison settings.

"Making the healthy choice the default choice is essential if we are to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic spreading across Europe", said the Hon. Christopher Fearne MP, Malta's Health Minister: "Burdensome public procurement rules should never be an obstacle to providing school children with healthy meals."

The report supports the EU High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity (HLG) and the Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020. Its specification sheets are based on recommendations from national school food policies, mapped across the EU in 2014 by the Joint Research Centre. It covers key food groups such as fruit & vegetables, meat, dairy products, cakes and sweets and nutrients such as salt, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, and micronutrients (iron/calcium/vitamin C, etc.). It also includes specifications for food preparation and catering services in general.

The report identifies the following potential benefits:

  • Improved quality of school food service
  • Increased availability and accessibility to nutritious and safe food
  • Reduction of food insecurity
  • Minimisation of health inequalities
  • Improved dietary habits during childhood
  • Reduced incidence of childhood obesity and overweight
  • Positive effects on school attendance and performance
  • Development of health-minded schools

Public procurement of food for health: technical report on the school setting

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