Study calls for action on child nutrition

February 20, 2024 12:57 pm

A recent study by Dikoda Limited in collaboration with UNICEF Pacific has thrown the spotlight on the state of school food environments in the country, revealing a concerning lack of healthy options for children.

The research, which focused on all forms of malnutrition among children, paints a worrying picture of limited access to nutritious choices near schools.

Deputy Director Dikoda Limited Doctor Mari Manger says the research exposes a critical gap between the food environment and the nutritional needs of children.

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“The most prevalent outlets around schools were supermarkets, canteens, restaurants and corner shops and over seven percent of these outlets advertise a high proportion of that advertising is of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

Dr Manger adds that the limited access to healthy foods contributes to existing concerns.

“Our mapping also showed skewed distribution towards unhealthy food outlets, especially in peri-urban and rural areas and this imbalance can impact healthy eating habits with peri-urban and rural schools at a disadvantage.”

The Ministry of Health also adds that multi-stakeholder engagement is crucial for promoting healthy food choices.