Green Group Bats for Healthy School “Baon,” Urges Government to Protect Children from Unhealthy Food Marketing

An environmental group has made a
pitch for nutritious and budget-friendly home-prepared school “baon” that can
ease hunger and provide good nutrition as well.
In a statement released ahead of
the opening of the new school year this coming Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition
gave a thumbs up to simple but healthy “baon” ideas as it drew attention to the
risks of consuming food high in fat, salt and sugar, especially for young kids.
“Every child deserves a healthy
‘baon’ that can provide the nutrition needed by her or his growing body and
promote full and sound development,” said Ofelia Panganiban, a healthy food
advocate and an officer of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“By preparing healthy ‘baon’
under their watchful eyes, parents do help kids in minimizing their intake of
nutrient-poor snacks that contain too much fat, salt and sugar,” she said.
“Fostering healthy food choices
will lead to healthy weight and lifestyle, while also  preventing children’s  exposure to bacterial and chemical toxins in
some food items,” she pointed out.
As for morning or afternoon
snacks, Panganiban recommended native delicacies such as glutinous rice cake
(biko) and puto (steamed rice cake) and 
boiled or steamed banana (saba), cassava, corn, peanut, sweet potato (kamote)
and taro (gabi).
She suggested homemade bread
spread or jam from popular fruits like banana, mango and papaya, as well as
root crops such as purple yam (ube) and sweet potato (kamote) that are
available all year round.
For vitamin-rich thirst
quenchers, Panganiban suggested making juice from any fruit in season,
including ginger lily (kamias) and tamarind (sampalok); creating pretty
concoctions such as “Pink Lady” (water from boiled purple camote tops with
calamansi juice) or “White Lady” (from blended or mashed star apple) or drinks
from boiling lemongrass and  pandan
At the same time, the EcoWaste
Coalition urged the Department of Education and the Department of Health to
work with lawmakers of the 16th Congress in drawing up a law that will “protect
children from the impact of unhealthy food marketing” as recommended by the
World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO at its 63rd World Health
Assembly in 2010 adopted a set of 
recommendations to discourage and protect children against unhealthy
diets, including ensuring that all settings 
where children gather are free from all marketing of unhealthy foods.
According to Resolution No. 5,
“such settings include, but are not limited to, nurseries, schools, school
grounds and pre-school centers, playgrounds, family and child clinics and
paediatric services and during any sporting and cultural activities that are
held on these premises.”
In line with the recommendations
of the WHO, the EcoWaste Coalition requested government and school authorities
to take concrete steps to protect kids from the effects of unhealthy food
marketing that can lead to overweight and obesity, or the “abnormal or
excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.”
According to a WHO factsheet,
“childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature
death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks,
obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures,
hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and
psychological effects.”
To reduce overweight and obesity
and their related non-communicable diseases, the WHO has emphasized the need
for “supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping
people’s choices, making the healthier choice of foods and regular physical
activity the easiest choice (accessible, available and affordable), and
therefore preventing obesity.”
According to WHO,  people can at the personal level: 1) limit
energy intake from total fats and sugars, 2) increase consumption of fruit and
vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts, and 3) engage in regular
physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes per week for
At the societal level, WHO
highlighted the need for sustained political commitment and the collaboration
of many public and private stakeholders to ensure people’s access to a healthy
lifestyle, including making regular physical activity and healthier dietary
choices available, affordable and easily accessible to all – especially the
poorest individuals.
The food industry, according to
the WHO,  can play a significant role in
promoting healthy diets by 1) reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of
processed foods, 2) ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available
and affordable to all consumers, 3) practicing responsible marketing especially
those aimed at children and teenagers, 4) ensuring the availability of healthy
food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the