Children are increasingly sedentary and eat worse, and that is why cardiologists claim the inclusion of the school cafeteria in educational plans. School menus have a low presence of vegetables and an excess of foods from the group of meats and derivatives, as well as precooked products that require their preparation in frying
The school canteen plays an educational role of the first order for children to acquire healthy eating habits and should be incorporated into the educational plans of schools, according to a report by the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC) and the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC).
It is one of the proposals of the study on “Cardiovascular risk from childhood”, which also proposes increasing physical activity in early childhood and primary education by one hour a day.
This consensus document includes different proposals for action in order to avoid that, in the future, the youngest have a greater risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
“The challenge is to ensure that in childhood heart-healthy habits are acquired that are maintained in adulthood”, and for this the schools, together with the families, play an essential role, explained the president of the SEC, Dr. Manuel Anguita.
The data is very worrying: 23.8% of Spanish children are overweight and 10.3% are obese. Rates that are explained by the consumption of processed foods, high in sugar and saturated fat.
A sedentary lifestyle is also responsible: less than half of children perform the daily physical activity recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO): at least 60 minutes a day.
Although the Food Safety and Nutrition Law of 2011 establishes, for the first time, that the menus served in school canteens must be reviewed by health and educational administrations and by nutrition professionals, and introduces recommendations regarding the composition of the menus , in practice there is great diversity in different communities.
According to the report, these tend to favor the outsourcing of catering companies over direct management, guided by economic management criteria.