Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Chew on THIS..and then get moving!

Posted in Uncategorized by fitvsfiction on September 21, 2011

On September 20,2011..I was a panelist at the All Candidate Provincial Election Debate in the city of Vaughan. As 1 of 3 panelist, I was allowed to ask the candidates 2 questions, which they had 60 seconds to answer. Here were my questions:

1) The province has implemented a “Junk Food” ban in schools, which involves removing foods deemed unhealthy from school stores and cafeterias in an effort to battle the issue of childhood obesity. While obesity is an issue, research shows that for all the overweight kids in Ontario, there are at least as many kids who are NOT overweight but THINK they are and are engaging in dangerous behavior to lose weight.

A focus on food and weight in schools without proper follow up and education may intensify the rapidly growing problem of body image preoccupation among young children.

Q: If you are in agreement with the continued roll out of the Junk Food Ban, how are you addressing the other issue of body image preoccupation which is at least as concerning as obesity right now and will likely become more rampant with the continuing ban?

If you are not in agreement with the ban, what are you prepared to do to address both issues?

2) While what we eat is important to our health, so is physical activity. We are told through TV commercials and notes home from school that our kids are not getting nearly enough exercise, however, this is an area where I feel our schools are letting us down.

In 2005 a “Healthy Schools” Plan was introduced that was supposed to ensure that elementary school students would have at least 20mins of sustained moderate to vigorous activity each school day. The reasoning was that 20mins of exercises had proven to be critical to making schools healthier places to learn. Unfortunately, this program was short lived. Not only have many schools abandoned the program completely, but gym classes, while only offered once or twice a week, seem to be the first classes to be cancelled when over scheduling becomes an issue. Add that tothe  days when the weather keeps the students inside for recess and we are eliminating daily physical activity almost completely.

Q: What are you planning to do to ensure that our kids are given ample opportunity to be physically active during the school day so they can not only gain the physical health benefits but can also get the message that being active is important?

To be honest, the answers I got from the candidates were less than reassuring but at least somewhat honest. What I heard was a lot of, “That IS a tough question and an important point..but I just don’t know what the solution is right now.”

Truth be told, while I’m not naive enough to believe that by bringing the issue of body image preoccupation to this debate we will see any great changes made to the “Healthy Schools” program to steer it away from obesity prevention and towards health did feel pretty damned good to hear the words “Body Image” spoken by each and every candidate.

It’s a step in the right direction..since a problem cannot be changed until it is recognized.



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