Dear Staff, Parents and Friends of the College,
As we enter into the last few weeks of the term, people will be getting tired. Part of that fatigue can lead to dropping standards of nutrition, which only compounds the problem. Being the primary carers, parents bear the load of ensuring their children enjoy a healthy diet on a daily basis, but statistics aren’t reflecting this: “According to the Department of Education’s VCAMS data (2018), Victorian students are getting 40% of their daily energy intake from ‘junk foods’ such as cakes, fast food, confectionery, and sugary drinks, with only 10% of students eating their recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.” reports Education Australia. The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that while 73% of 4-8 year olds eat sufficient fruit serves (1.5 servings), just 3.3% eat sufficient vegetable serves (4.5 servings). In the 12 -13 year old age bracket, this figure was slightly lower, with 68% eating the recommended two servings of fruit and just 1.4% eating the recommended five veggie serves.
There is a lot of truth in the saying “You are what you eat.” A quick glance at the eating habits of young people in Australia shows why schools and families need to up
their game when it comes to encouraging kids to eat more fruit and vegetables because healthy food improves student performance and outcomes. “Research shows that if you eat less junk, you feel better. By simply replacing junk food with core foods, low mood can be alleviated.” (M. Rozman, Dietitian) So we need to decrease junk food such as chips and lollies, while increasing core foods like fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains. Evidence shows that healthy eating habits in children resolve a number of other mental health issues: it helps them to improve self-esteem and body image; it helps them handle their emotions better; they will get a good night’s sleep, and therefore cope better with the stresses of life. Furthermore, a significant number of behavioural issues are linked with poor student diets; that is why good doctors will always investigate eating, dietary and exercise habits before anything else when they are seeking to find the cause of ADHD.
Thinking long term, parents should also consider the repercussions of poor eating habits on their child’s health well into adulthood. A 2013 study from the Department of Health noted that developing healthy eating habits in childhood can continue into adulthood and play an important role in reducing the likelihood of chronic diseases.
I finish my words with a quote from Dr Mantzioris: “The message is, we should always be trying to achieve healthy diets in children, each stage of their development is critical for better health outcomes as well as academic outcomes – they really are interrelated. The other important aspect to better health is also adequate physical activity.”
Maybe this Lent, one of the family resolutions might be to eat more healthily? Why not? We should be doing it anyway.
Sincerely yours in the Two Hearts,
Father Andrew Cranshaw