Thursday, September 13, 2007

Quebec's Useless School Gestures

Yesterday Quebec's provincial Health Minister Philippe Couillard reported Quebec is planning to ban sugary soft drinks and junk food from schools.

La Presse newspaper even reported that poutine (french fries smothered with cheese curds and gravy) will be cut from school cafeterias.

Some brief observations:

  • Soft drinks will be replaced with juice and chocolate milk which in many cases will have more calories and sugar drop per drop than the pop they're replacing.
  • The fact that poutine was ever on the menu in Quebec public schools is absolutely horrifying.
  • Putting healthy foods in schools won't stop kids from eating junk.

  • When I was in high school at lunchtime we would run across the street to the coffee shop for donuts or to the fish and chip place for chips. Was it a coincidence that those shops were there?

    Remember, Big Food is anything but stupid.

    If only there were a study looking at the proximity of fast food outlets in relation to public schools.

    Well guess what, there is one.

    Wanna guess what the researchers found?

    The study, done in Chicago, found,
    "The median distance from any school in Chicago to the nearest fast-food restaurant was 0.52 km, a distance that an adult can walk in little more than 5 minutes, and 78% of schools had at least 1 fast-food restaurant within 800 m. Fast-food restaurants were statistically significantly clustered in areas within a short walking distance from schools, with an estimated 3 to 4 times as many fast-food restaurants within 1.5 km from schools than would be expected if the restaurants were distributed throughout the city in a way unrelated to school locations."
    Quebec and anyone else who might be listening, what we need in our schools is sensible education about calories being worked into multiple classes from a very early age (for instance math class where calories burned through exercise can be calculated and represented by potato chips consumed), the only beverages in the vending machines being zero-calorie and calorie-reduced, healthy calorie controlled school food with menu board posting of nutritional information and perhaps, like celebrity chef and school lunch reformer in the UK Jamie Oliver is suggesting, a ban on leaving school premises during lunch.

    Oh, and a complete rewrite of Canada's Food Guide of course, this time without the food industry doing the rewriting.

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    1. Anonymous9:21 am

      so you think that children should have access to coke zero rather than an unsweetened orange juice (to which yes I am aware there is still sugar in). artificial sweeteners are horrible for children and recommending that they only have that as an alternative to water or milk is horrendous!!

    2. Ah yes, the God sugar argument has arrived.

      Please provide me with the evidence to support your statement, "artificial sweeteners are horrible for children".

      FYI, yesterday a study on aspartame came out that included over 500 studies, articles and reports conducted over the last 25 years - including work that was not published, but that was submitted to government bodies as part of the regulatory approvals process.

      Want to know what they concluded?

      "The weight of existing evidence s that aspartame is safe at current levels of consumption… No credible evidence was found that aspartame is carcinogenic, neurotoxic, or has any other adverse effect on health when consumed even at quantities many times the established ADI [acceptable daily intake] levels."

      Hope your knee jerk didn't give you a black eye.

    3. Anonymous9:12 pm

      I was a teacher in an American school for several years, where a small gas-station-and-general store lunch counter was the only fast food for miles. Many kids still chose chocolate milk and fries for lunch, despite the best efforts of their teachers (I taught science) to get them to do otherwise. When school lunch ladies are restricted to purchasing the "breaded-and-boxed" fare from the county-approved truck (which ours was, to her dismay, after she promised us improvements), everyone loses. Good dietary habits are going to have to be a concerted effort of parents, officials, administrators, teachers, and the kids themselves.
      OH- and aspartame gives my Mom 2-day migraines. OK for most- not good for some.