Community has to tackle child obesity

Addressing child obesity is a societal effort, says the C.E.O. of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Afamasaga Dr. Karoline Afamasaga-Fuatai. 

Afamasaga said the Ministry works with the Ministry of Health in promoting health programmes in schools and raising awareness on healthy eating habits. 

“We have our association with the Health Ministry that we go visit. This is also the thing people wait for the Government top-down to regulate these things, but if you as a parent are concerned, you make sure your child goes to school with a healthy lunch,” she told the Samoa Observer.

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“We are also encouraging schools not to sell junk foods but eat fruits. It is not a good thing to get rid of or eradicate overnight. We have to work through the school curriculum also getting the parents involved.”

“But before we go and put our foot down and say no more of this, we have to find alternatives and that really takes a change of thinking and practices at the home, so we can move to eliminate those.” 

Afamasaga said Samoa’s school curriculum promotes healthy eating habits and this has been the case before the existence of organisations that also tackle child obesity. 

“It’s part of our curriculum to teach healthy eating, the three types of food and what you should do to release the energy and be active,” she said.  

“We are encouraging our students to be sports active, we have a low sports active percent of students after a survey we did in 2017, so we are promoting competition and active engagements of students at primary level, not a problem with secondary because we have a well-established structure competition with all sorts of sports and athletics.” 

“We are trying to make sure the foundational skills are laid at primary and that’s how we are addressing it. And also through culture day and vegetable gardening, we encourage them to grow fruit trees in the compound so the students eat the fruits and healthy food, making them aware of what’s good and bad.” 

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