Ontario nutrition and physical activity professionals welcome move to ban trans fat from schools but more needed

    TORONTO, Dec. 5 /CNW/ - The Ontario Collaborative Group on Healthy Eating
and Physical Activity (OCGHEPA) applauds the provincial government's decision
to ban trans fat from school cafeterias and vending machines in schools across
Ontario as part of a new Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act.
    However, in light of growing obesity rates of children and youth across
the province, the group urges the government to move beyond simply banning
trans fat and develop a comprehensive approach to fostering healthy
nutritional habits among Ontario students. The OCGHEPA is made up of nutrition
and physical activity professionals from across Ontario.
    "We believe the legislation being tabled today is a positive first step
toward healthier schools for our children," says Mary-Jo Makarchuk, OCGHEPA
member and Nutrition Promotion Consultant with Toronto Public Health. "We
would like the government to ensure there are comprehensive measures to
promote healthy eating among students that include standards for all foods and
beverages served and sold on special food days, in tuck shops and for
fundraising, in addition to cafeterias and vending machines as proposed."
    For example, the US Institute of Medicine recently released standards for
foods in schools that not only limit trans fat but also total calories, fats,
sodium and added sugars and promote healthier options.
    The OCGHEPA believes teaching healthy eating habits goes beyond simply
what students consume during their lunch period. Nutrition education needs to
be incorporated into the curriculum and other community events that take place
in the school setting.
    "While banning trans fat in schools will address students' cardiovascular
health, it will do little to address childhood obesity," says Makarchuk. "We
want to work toward a school system where the health of our children is given
the same priority as their academic success and we look forward to supporting
our government in this endeavour."

    The OCGHEPA advocacy sub-committee is a provincial collaboration of
health professionals from organizations dedicated to addressing
population-based issues related to healthy eating and physical activity. The
Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division acts as secretariat for the group.

For further information:

For further information: Mary-Jo Makarchuk, Member, Ontario
Collaborative Group on Health Eating and Physical Activity; Nutrition
Promotion Consultant, Toronto Public Health: (416) 338-7936

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