Arcadia promotes healthy living among students

As childhood obesity continues to be a major concern among parents and health authorities across the UAE, schools are now working proactively to inculcate good eating habits in children. According to a recent report by the Dubai Health Authority’s Schools and Educational Institutions Unit, 33 per cent of children from kindergarten to Grade 12 across 176 private educational institutions are either overweight or obese. Of these 14 to 16 per cent are obese.

The Arcadia Preparatory School (Arcadia), located in Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Triangle, has devised a delicious hot meal and snack menu that will have a balance of dairy, fruit and protein, considering all dietary requirements for students.

Graham Beale, Founding Principal of The Arcadia Preparatory School said, “Since school meals account for the majority of the food children eat during the week, it’s not just enough that they serve children quality food, but also educate them on the importance of having healthy eating habits.”

Arcadia’s five action steps that parents and teachers can take home to promote health and wellbeing among students are:

· Encourage healthy eating at home: If parents and children eat a well-balanced diet at home, then children are more likely to follow that example at school.

· Serve healthy meal options: Schools should eliminate or reduce meal options that are unhealthy in favour of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and lean protein. The school changes its menu every four weeks, providing delicious non-vegetarian and vegetarian options. Students can develop their palate by experiencing various cuisines such as- Arabic, English, Thai, and Greek. Dishes on the menu include cherry tomato pasta salad, vegetable cottage pie, chicken meatballs, mac and cheese croquettes, chicken shish taouk, fresh milk, fruit salad, and a wide range of other wholesome meals. The school also adopts a nut-free policy to suit all dietary needs.

· Go over the school food menu with children: If children don’t like something, they will usually state it and by going through the menu, the children have a chance to give feedback on what is being served. Parents can use this feedback and pass it on to the school food service authorities.

· Communicate with children: Explaining which foods are nutritional and why each meal of the day is important helps children understand, which helps them make better decisions when the parents are not around.

· Get moving: Apart from incorporating positive eating habits, students must also exercise regularly to maintain good health. Research has shown that students who do brief bursts of exercise before taking tests score higher.

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