Order on healthy food and beverage choices in schools and DepEd offices

BAGUIO CITY – Department of Education Order 13, series of 2017 should be considered by school canteens as to the renewal of contracts with their respective venues for the school opening in June.

Data compiled reveals that children have double burden of malnutrition; undernutrition with being overweight or obese. These are later linked to acquiring chronic and non-communicable diseases; cancers, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes and other life-threatening conditions.

A nutrition survey also shows that a certain percentage of children 5 to 10 years old may be underweight, stunted, wasted and overweight. These could be attributed to inadequate food, unhealthy eating patterns, more sugars and a sedentary lifestyle.

School are good venues for health promotion strategies, thus the guide given for school heads and teachers in-charge of canteens and meals.

As to the order, canteen-cooked food are classified under color codes Green, Yellow and Red; with basically energy-giving, body-building and body-regulating functions.

Green category food should always be available in the school canteen. With nutrients and generally low in saturated, transfat, sugar and salt; these include unsweetened milk, potable water, Buko juice; brown or iron-fortified rice, corn, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, cassava, kamote, corn, boiled bananas, boiled peanuts, suman and puto. For meals served in the canteen, there should be fishes, shellfishes, small shrimps, lean meat, chicken without skin, nuts and eggs. Fresh seasonal fruits should be served.

Yellow category food and drinks have nutrients but may contain large amounts of fats/sugars and or salt. These may be served once or twice a week only, the DepEd order states. Included are fresh fruit juices, bread, biscuits, banana and camote cue, pancakes, champorado, sandwiches, processed food for meals and stir-fried vegetables.

Food under the red category are NOT recommended to be served in the school canteen, as they contain high amounts of saturated fat or sugar or salt, and excess calories. As to the Dep-Ed order, “consumption of these food and drinks outside the school premises is at the discretion of their parents.” These include soft and alcoholic drinks, sports and energy water, flavored, sweetened and powdered juice drinks, products with caffeine, processed fruit/vegetable juice with more than 4 teaspoons of added sugar.

Heavily salted snacks, instant noodles, French fries, chocolates, candies, marshmallows, ice cream, jelly, cakes, donuts, all sweet bakery products, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep fried food including fish balls, canned fruits in heavy syrup, and sweetened fruits and vegetables are in the red category food.

It is recalled that the World Health Organization in June 2016 held a workshop on regulating marketing and sale of food and non-alcoholic beverages in schools and DepEd offices, to set school food standards, and increase the availability and accessibility of healthy options.

Natural food should be available over processed food products, the DepEd order also states./Julie G. Fianza#


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