A new report by the UK’s independent school and childcare education institute has called for more schools to start offering more nutritious and low-calorie snacks, while schools should also encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The report, which was released on Monday, also recommends more schools and colleges adopt a low-fat, high-fiber diet and promote physical activity as a way to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In particular, it recommends schools introduce a ‘food diary’ to help students plan meals and encourage healthy eating.
A food diary would be based on the nutritional value of each food item, including its fibre content, sugar content, and the amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre found in each ingredient.
The diet would include the food on a regular basis and include a portion of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, dairy products and low fat dairy products.
A low-carbohydrate diet, the report says, is an ideal diet for children with type 2 and that there is a lack of research on its long-term health benefits.
A high-fat diet is one option for parents, while a low calorie diet can be a viable option for people with Type 2 diabetes, the National Health Service said.
‘I am convinced that we need to move from a diet based on high-caloric foods to one based on more nutritious, high quality foods, including vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds,’ said Jenny Jones, a consultant paediatrician who is a senior adviser at the school education institute.
‘This is a big shift in how we think about diet and nutrition, which is what we have been doing for so long.’
The food diary could provide a valuable tool for families to track their children’s health and weight and to help plan meals, encourage healthy living and to encourage active lifestyles.’
‘We want to be at the forefront of the battle against Type 2 and encourage everyone to make the changes they need to get the best outcomes for their children.’
The school education research was commissioned by the National Education Service (NES), a part of the Department for Education, which has pledged £2.5bn over the next four years to tackle the problem of type 2 diabetics.
The NHS said in a statement: ‘We recognise the importance of encouraging people with type two diabetes to follow a low carb, high fibre, low fat diet.
‘The evidence is that low carb and high fibre diets improve blood glucose control and weight control, and that is good news.
‘However, the evidence shows that a healthy diet should be linked to a healthy lifestyle, and there is still much to be learned about how to promote a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.’
The National Health Office (NOH) said: ‘Diabetes and its related conditions can affect children and adults differently, and research shows that it is important to support parents and children in making choices about how and when they eat.
‘Research is ongoing to understand how to make healthier choices, but the NOH is committed to supporting families in this area.
‘Our advice is that parents should be encouraged to help their children set and follow a healthy eating and eating plan.’
The report also recommends that schools encourage parents to make changes in their behaviour when they feel their child is not eating enough, or when they are feeling stressed.
It recommends that teachers be more involved in encouraging healthier eating.
‘It is important that schools are able to offer more nutritious food to children, as part of a healthy school diet, and to teach parents that children should be able to eat a healthy meal and not worry about their food quality,’ the report said.
The NHS also called for a review of its guidelines for the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) to help make sure the data is accurate.
A spokesman for the NHS said:’There is evidence that low-nutrient foods can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes and there has been some recent research to support this, and we have made improvements to our guidelines to ensure that children with Type 1 Diabetes can eat as much as possible, and children with diabetes and heart disease can eat what they want.’
‘However we must ensure that the data that is used to support those guidelines is accurate and that the NDSS does not reflect the needs of adults and children, including people with diabetes.’
The NHDNS was established in 1998 and is based on an ongoing survey of 1,500 adults and 3,000 children with a variety of conditions.
It has been designed to provide information on how people with specific conditions in the UK eat and exercise.