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.