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October 4, 2007
For immediate release
New Strategy Aims to Improve Eating Habits and Reduce Obesity Among Children and Youth
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The strategy outlines initiatives to raise awareness of the importance of healthy eating and increase access to healthy food in Island homes, schools and communities.
The new strategy replaces the original strategy which was introduced in 2002. Targeted toward school-aged children, the primary focus of the first strategy was the development of school nutrition policies for elementary and consolidated schools and school breakfast and snack programs.
The new strategy targets children and youth aged 0-19. It will guide nutrition education, research activities, and the development of healthy eating policies for intermediate and high schools, as well as for pre-school and kindergarten environments. Dr. Jennifer Taylor, co-chair of the Healthy Eating Alliance, says that with a coordinated provincial strategy, the 30+ member organizations of the alliance can have a far greater impact than if they were working on their own. “With common goals and some centralized resources, we can make a greater impact, reduce duplication and learn from each other,” she said. “I am proud of the tremendous progress we have made in the past five years in raising public awareness and creating supportive environments for healthy eating in Island schools, homes and communities.”
Alliance co-chair Margaret Prouse said the strategy is important because the eating habits that children develop in the early years will carry over into later life. “Children who eat healthy usually develop well, do better in school and have more energy,” she said. “When children make poor food choices or have limited access to healthy food, they are more likely to be overweight or obese. These children often become overweight adults who are at greater risk for chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.”
Premier Robert Ghiz commended the Alliance members on their excellent progress. “The Healthy Eating Alliance is providing leadership to groundbreaking work that is envied by other jurisdictions across the country. We thank them for their excellent efforts in this critical area and we are pleased to lend them our continued support,” he said.
Statistics show that, in the past 20 years, the number of overweight children in Canada has doubled, and the number of obese children has tripled. While childhood obesity rates in Prince Edward Island are close to the national average, rates of overweight Island boys are among the highest in the country.
For more information on the strategy visit www.healthyeatingpei.ca.