Nutritious school lunches together with a ban on sweets and sugary drinks in school can help reduce the risk of obesity in children, argues a study from Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet.
“Our results show that programmes to reduce the increasing rate of obesity can be carried out within the schools’ existing budgets,” said Karolinska Institutet Professor Claude Marcus, leader of the STOPP research project (Stockholm Obesity Prevention Project).
The project studied six- to ten-year-old children at ten schools with recreation centres. Half of the schools ran a healthy diet programme removing all pastry, sweets and sweetened drinks from their premises and giving children the option to choose lower fat and more fibre-rich lunches.
The project outcomes show that, after four years, the relative number of overweight or fat children fell by 6%, from 22 to 16%, in the schools that had opted for healthy diets, and increased by 3%, from 18 to 21%, in the others.
“We also interpret these results to mean that clear regulations in schools can help parents to set standards for their children and improve dietary habits at home,” added Professor Marcus.
To read the Karolinska Institutet press release, click here.