Thursday, December 6, 2007

Ontario's Doctors Applaud Move to Reduce Junk Food in Schools

Ontario's doctors support the action taken by theprovincial government today to remove trans-fats and junk food from schools.In 2005, The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) called for a restriction onnutrient-poor foods for students while under the care of school boards inorder to help curb the rate of childhood obesity. Doctors have also beencalling on the provincial government to mandate one hour per day of structuredaerobic physical activity and exercise for elementary and secondary schoolstudents in order to help reverse this dangerous trend.

"The evidence is clear, obesity rates in children can be siginificantlydecreased with appropriate physical activity and healthy food options," said Dr. Janice Willett, President of the OMA. "It is essential that school be ahealthy environment for children, where they can experience healthy behavioursthat will continue into adulthood."

The OMA report, An Ounce of Prevention or a Ton of Trouble: Is there anepidemic of obesity in children? showed that from 1981 to 1996, the proportionof overweight boys increased from 15 to 28.8 per cent and overweight girlsfrom 15 to 23.6 per cent. The report also highlighted the severe andpotentially life-threatening consequences of obesity. Obese children face anincreased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes,breathing problems (such as obstructive sleep apnea) and orthopediccomplications.

"The provincial government has shown that health prevention is a priorityand tackling junk food in schools shows they are committed to improving thehealth of our children," said Dr. Willett. "This action, in combination withmore physical activity and public education, will help address this growingpublic health issue."

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