What are school stores selling kids?

(Photo: Pixabay)
AMMAN — The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, crackers, and snacks among teenage boys in schools was found to be significantly higher compared to teenage girls by a recent University of Jordan study. اضافة اعلان

The study aimed to determine what food items children purchase and consume from school shops or stores close to their school and the impact of such foods on body weight.

The study found a significant relationship between body mass and intake of sugary and fatty foods, as well as the intake of foods fortified with vitamin E and calcium from school shops.

"I tried a lot to get my kids used to taking their lunch from home to ensure that they eat while they're at school, but all my attempts failed. Maybe it's because they imitate their friends who eat whatever they want from the school canteen or from nearby stores,” Asma Khasawneh, a mother of two teenage boys, told Jordan News in an interview.

“The problem is that these markets mostly offer foods that are very high in sugar, and even if there are some foods with good nutritional value, children are not inclined to buy them,” Khasawneh added.

She suggested that the best solution to such a problem is to closely monitor school shops, so that foods with low nutritional value are not served to children.

“Children at these ages are still growing and developing, and anything they eat affects their physical well-being directly,” Khasawneh said.

"Stores in Jordanian schools depend, in general, mainly on processed foods and snacks, which contain a high amount of sugars and saturated fats,” said nutritionist Nashat Dahiyat. He added that such foods are full of empty calories, meaning they are high in calories but are not rich in all the nutrients necessary for growing adolescents.

“Schools must change the concept of the school store to a broader and healthier concept that depends on providing healthy meals,” Dahiyat said.

Regarding the basic nutritional needs of adolescents, Dahiyat said that there are many foods that are important for development and physical growth at this age, the most important of which are proteins, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, a group of B vitamins, iron, and others. “Unfortunately, if these elements are present in the foods students buy, it is often in very small proportions that do not suit their needs,” Dahiyat said.

However, head of the school stores and Red Crescent Department at the Ministry of Education, Hashem Al-Zubi said that school stores are supervised.

Zubi said that the department circulates annual “instructions containing health requirements for stores, and lists the foods that are allowed to be sold and the foods that are prohibited.” “In addition, our department conducts field checks and unannounced visits to school stores within a pre-prepared program,” Zubi said.

Among the list of foods not allowed to be sold at school stores are soft drinks, drinks containing caffeine, expired foods, flavored drinks, some sweets and chocolates, any kind of meat, fried potatoes, ice cream, food and beverages in glass containers, and other items listed in the Official Gazette, according to Zubi.

“If a public school violates the health requirements for school stores, the appropriate punitive measures will be taken against the school director and the store official, in addition a health warning will be issued from the Ministry of Health,” Zubi said, adding that the same applies to private schools and that multiple offenses results in a school store being shut down.

Read more National news