A new study suggests Canadian children are not eating enough good food at school to meet their dietary requirement of vitamins and minerals. Researchers at the University of British Columbia also found that during school hours, students were eating less nutritious foods like sweet drinks, salty snack and candies.
The phenomenon was more pronounced among students from families with no post-secondary education and among teenagers. Results varied across the country, with students in the province of Quebec having better nutrition. Some experts say this may have to do with the fact that Quebec has banned junk food advertising to children.
Decreased ability to learn, to focus cited
The study is worrisome for dietitians like Abby Langer. She says children are directly affected by poor nutrition. “They can suffer from a decreased ability to learn and concentrate, focus. Their behaviour can suffer if they are not adequately nourished both by not eating enough food and by (not) eating healthy food or the right types of food.”Listen
Langer says adults and children would benefit from more education about nutrition. She adds that parents could improve their children’s eating habits by modeling good eating habits and by involving them in the purchase and preparation of food. And she believes governments should take action too.
Canada missing out, says dietitian
“We definitely need a national school lunch program. We’re the only G8 country that does not have one. And we’re really missing out on…the access to subsidized hot nutritious meals at school like other countries have.
“I think that it would really positively impact our kids’ nutrition and, further to that, their learning.”
This study from the University of British Columbia was published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.