The prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing rapidly worldwide, and South Africa was recently listed as one of the countries projected to have the highest number of children with obesity by 2025. Primary school years have been highlighted as a crucial time where the transition in Body Mass Index (BMI) towards obesity is common. Despite the multifactorial aetiology of childhood obesity, the ease of access to unhealthy food options compared the healthier options is a key contributing factor.
The World Health Organisation published a report of the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity in 2016, highlighting six key focus areas, two of which are the promotion of healthy food choices, and focusing on the health, nutrition and physical activity of school-aged children.
Schools are guided through the process of adapting their existing food offerings to provide healthier choices for their learners while taking practicality and costs into account.
In 2017, the Foundation launched a flagship programme called the School Health promotion Initiative (SHPI). The whole of the school’s approach is used for the SHPI which was piloted with two specific aims. The first is to raise awareness among South African youth on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and the second is to encourage the staff to know their health status by undergoing a health risk assessment. SHPI give the Foundation to reach young South Africans at a public-school level to make them aware of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
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Person: Sharon Felix