Nutrition education in Australia
The 2016 WHO report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity called for the introduction of dedicated and consistent food and nutrition education programs into school curriculum worldwide. About 2.6% of Australian school curriculum is dedicated to nutrition education, though this varies greatly depending on location and school funding. Many primary schools have implemented kitchen garden programs with great success; however, these are expensive and require specialist staff and equipment. Nutrition education programs are often underdeveloped, relating to food groups, the outdated food pyramid, is highly westernised and frequently lack specialist staff. Moreover, lunchbox guidelines utilised are often restrictive and often completely prohibit “junk” foods, when evidence suggests that a balanced approach is more appropriate in preventing disordered eating patterns in later life. At a secondary level, evidence suggests that dedicated food literacy and food skills programs including the planning and preparation of meals, reading of food labels and educating on basic nutrition principles are associated with healthier choices in early adulthood. A consistent issue with delivery is that these programs are costly, require specialist equipment and are often delivered as electives, meaning that not all students leave school with this knowledge and skillset. As with primary school, overall health education often competes with sport for limited time slots within timetables. As society renews focus on nutrition and health, the burden of chronic disease continues to increase thus requiring us to assess the true value of health and nutrition educations in a crowded school curriculum.
Skill-It Kicthen is an Australian student organisation whose mission is to educate future health care professionals about the importance of food and nutrition for wellbeing and environmental sustainability. Empowering them to create long term positive change by promoting healthy behaviours, a sustainable environment and social inclusion. We believe that nutrition education is a global issue and welcome international partnership with organisations like Nutritank who are leading the way in this important field.