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LCQ3: Healthy diet for pupils


Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a reply by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong, in the Legislative Council today (October 30):

Question :

Regarding healthy diet for pupils, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) in view of the decision made by the Board of Education of the Los Angeles Unified School District in the United States at the end of August this year to extend the prohibition of the sale of soft drinks in primary schools to secondary schools within the same school district in order to prevent obesity in children, whether it has examined implementing such measure in all primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong; if so, of the outcome; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) of the extent of observance and effectiveness of the stipulation that tuckshops in schools should not sell items of cooked food which may easily be contaminated, e.g. fish meat balls, rich rolls and rice dumplings, as stated in Guidelines on Meals Arrangements in schools issued to schools by the Education Department in May this year; and

(c) of any other measures to enhance pupils' awareness of a healthy diet?


Madam President,

(a) Obesity is caused largely by excessive caloric intake and insufficient physical activity. To prevent obesity in children, it is important to promote balanced diet and regular exercise among them. Merely prohibiting the sale of a specific product will not produce lasting and significant results. At present, the Education Department (ED) and the Department of Health (DH) promote healthy living among children by encouraging them to develop healthy living habits and attitudes through good eating habits and ample physical exercise.

(b) In order to safeguard the health of pupils, in May this year ED issued to schools for their reference the "Guidelines on Meal Arrangements in Schools", which recommend schools to consult parents on the food items to be sold. It is estimated that over 90 per cent of the schools do not sell food items which are easier to be contaminated (such as fish meat balls, rice rolls and rice dumplings). Schools that sell cooked food items have already consulted parents on the sale of such items. Moreover, officers from DH also visit schools from time to time, providing advice on school hygiene.

(c) The Government will encourage pupils to pay attention to healthy diet through the following school education and related activities:

(i) Strengthening the school curriculum

In the present General Studies curriculum for primary schools, "healthy eating" forms part of the curriculum content which aims at developing pupils' good eating habits and attitudes. In addition, secondary school subjects such as Biology, Social Studies and Home Economics also place emphasis on the importance of a balanced diet. There will also be in-depth discussion on the issue of obesity in the newly developed Science and Technology curriculum for Secondary 4-5.

In the current curriculum reform, schools are advised to adopt the new strategy of Life Event Approach to promote health education through which teachers can use real life experiences to engage pupils in meaningful discussion and to lead them to reflect on their own values and attitudes.

(ii) Participating in health education programmes and related activities

DH provides free health assessment and health education for secondary and primary school students, with counselling and follow-up services for obese students. Since the beginning of 1999, DH has launched three programmes related to healthy eating for pre-school children, primary and secondary school students respectively. Relevant teaching kits and educational materials have been distributed to every educational institution to assist teachers in carrying out such activities in schools. To widen students' learning experiences, ED encourages schools to bring in health education programmes offered by other organisations and to encourage pupils to participate in various health education programmes so as to develop a healthy eating habit.

(iii) Production of ETV programmes and learning resources

Schools can make use of ETV programmes and other learning resources during classroom teaching or other form of activities to encourage school children to pay attention to healthy eating.

(iv) Parent Education

Through the promotion of parent education activities, the ED also assists and educates parents on how to develop school children's good eating habit and healthy lifestyle.

End/Wednesday, October 30, 2002


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