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NSW school canteens top the class in national report

The strategy to increase healthy food options puts our schools in the good books.

A student buying food at their school canteen

The NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy makes the healthy choice the easy choice.

NSW school canteens have been singled out in a national report for their striking improvement in healthy food options.

According to Deakin University’s report card on the status of Australia’s obesity prevention policies “NSW is taking the most action of any Australian government to improve the healthiness of foods in school canteens and hospitals, while other states lag behind”.

The report findings reflect changes made under the 2017 Healthy School Canteen Strategy, which was a key element of the NSW Premier’s Priority to reduce overweight and obesity rates among children by five per cent by 2025.

The strategy was prompted by 2015 figures that showed around one in five NSW children between the ages of five and 16 were overweight or obese, putting them at risk of poor health.

The Food Policy Index released this week, compiled by researchers at Deakin’s Institute for Health Transformation in partnership with the Obesity Policy Coalition, assessed government progress towards implementing globally recommended policies for tackling obesity and creating healthier food environments.

The report’s lead author Associate Professor Gary Sacks said all states and territories needed to ensure schools were a healthy place for every Australian child, no matter where they lived.

“There are really good policies around the country focused on making school canteens healthier, but not all schools follow the rules, there’s no consistency,” he said.

Under the NSW strategy all school canteens have until December this year to increase healthy food and drink options to 75% of the menu.

The Healthy School Canteen Strategy was developed by the NSW Department of Education and the NSW Ministry in consultation with Catholics Schools NSW and the Association of Independent Schools of NSW.

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