Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

The Role of Schools

The promotion of healthy diets and physical activity in school is essential to fight the childhood obesity epidemic. Because children and adolescents spend a significant time of their young lives in school, the school environment is an ideal setting to acquire knowledge and skills about healthy choices and to increase physical activity levels.

School policy framework

Suggestions to promote healthy diets in schools

  • provide health education to help students acquire knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and skills which are needed to make informed decisions, practice healthy behaviours and create conditions that are conducive to health;
  • provide school food programmes to increase the availability of healthy food in schools (e.g. breakfast, lunch and/or snacks at reduced price);
  • have vending machines only if they sell healthy options like water, milks, juices, fruits and vegetables, sandwiches and low-fat snacks;
  • ensure that food served in schools adheres to minimum nutrition standards;
  • provide school health services for students and staff of the school to help foster health and well-being as well as prevent, reduce, monitor, treat and refer important health problems or conditions for students and staff of the school;
  • use school gardens as a tool to develop awareness about food origins;
  • promote parental involvement.

Suggestions to promote physical activity in schools

  • offer daily physical education classes with a variety of activities, so that the maximum number of students' needs, interests and abilities are addressed;
  • offer extracurricular activities: school sports and non-competitive school programmes (e.g. active recess);
  • encourage safe, non-motorized modes of transportation to school and other social activities;
  • provide access to adequate physical activity facilities to students and the community;
  • encourage students, teachers, parents and the community to become physically active.

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