Childhood obesity a priority area for Malta’s EU Presidency
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11th October is World Obesity Day – Malta to lead the development of voluntary procurement guidelines for schools during its EU Presidency.
As childhood obesity is one of the priority areas in health for Malta's Presidency of the Council of Europe, the Ministry for Health has said that Malta will lead the development of a voluntary procurement guideline for schools. "The over-arching goal of this priority is to contribute to halting the rise in obesity in children and young people."
It said that Malta is working closely with a group of technical experts, across member states to develop technical specifications for the procurement of healthy food in schools.
At the end of Malta's EU Presidency, a document with clear guidelines for the use of public procurers on a voluntary basis will be developed.
The Health Ministry said that these guidelines will help procurers in their issue of tenders to buy healthy food for school children.
"This is one of the deliverables envisaged for Malta's EU Presidency priority to help reverse the ever increasing trend in childhood obesity".
Malta, like the majority of countries in the developed world, is facing an increase in the prevalence of obesity, the Ministry said.
The Ministry for Health has set up an inter-ministerial advisory committee on Healthy Lifestyle and Non Communicable diseases, with the main aim being to shift the living environment from an obesogenic environment to one that promotes healthy choices and a healthy weight.
The Ministry added that health authorities are reinforcing a leading role to support initiatives in halting the obesity rise in line with the Healthy Weight for Life Strategy, Breastfeeding Policy, Food and Nutrition Action Plan and the Whole of School Approach to a Healthy Lifestyle Strategy.
It said that actions being carried out which decrease the rise in childhood obesity include:
• National awareness-raising and education campaigns on healthy eating and physical activity on a regular basis, targeting both the general population as well as specific population groups.
• Initiatives encouraging development of the skills required for behaviour change which focuses on cooking healthy meals for the family within a budget.
• Ongoing School Fruit Scheme in line with the Mediterranean diet.
• Lunchbox campaign: The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate has teamed up with the Education Authorities to launch a campaign to encourage healthier lunchboxes.
• The regulation of school tuck-shops through respective tender agreements is in line with current healthy dietary recommendations. A list of permissible foods and non-permissible foods has been distributed to all schools, whilst health inspectors review school tuck shops to ensure compliance.
"The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate, in the Ministry for Health continuously promotes a healthy weight for life which focuses on the health benefits of physical activity and a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle focusing on regulation of portion sizes, promotion of seasonal fruit, vegetables, fish and water."