Obesity prevention in St. Maarten to start in new school year


PHILIPSBURG--The Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, Section General Public Health, presented its Obesity Prevention Programme focussing on nutrition and physical education to stakeholders recently in preparation for the 2012-2013 school year. A main item is a school breakfast programme.

The Ministry will fund the breakfast programme to the tune of NAf. 90,000 while the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports will fund the physical education part. The project has been presented to school managers and community project coordinators.

General Public Health nutritionist Swinda Richardson and Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports physical education coordinator David Forsythe made the presentation.

Dr. Danielle Hollar, a consultant for Obesity Prevention Programming, Research and Evaluation, spoke about "The Organise Guys" Comprehensive School Programme, which focuses on improving children's health and academic performance.

Thirty Cycle II children of each school will participate in this breakfast programme. The schools participating in this programme are Oranje School, Sister Marie Laurence School and Hillside Christian Schools. These schools were chosen specifically because research showed that the children at these schools were not having breakfast regularly.

Research shows that children who do not have a good breakfast usually have problems concentrating in class.
Teachers also will be consulted to inquire whether the children show any progress relating to their grades and general participation in class. The breakfast menu will include fruits, dairy products, vegetables, etc. The menu will be nutritionally balanced with foods from four food groups: dairy, grains, meats, fruits/vegetables.

"It is important for us to see how the children will respond to the items on the menu. We will switch it up as much as possible by offering a variety weekly," said Richardson.

The menu will be rotated weekly. An example of the menu will be tuna sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, all with lettuce and tomato; peanut butter sandwiches; cereal; hardboiled eggs; yoghurt;100 per cent fruit juice; milk and water.

The programme will be evaluated at the end of the school year. "We hope by the 2013-2014 school year to expand the programme to other schools and we encourage others to take it up," said Richardson.

Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Cornelius de Weever stated, "It is a great programme that, if it is executed properly, will have a positive outcome especially for the children."

19 JUNI 2012