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Are school environments making the grade?/Les milieu scolaires obtiennent-ils la note de passage?

In an effort to curb childhood obesity, the Ministers of Health and Health Promotion have identified the following three key policy priorities: creating supportive environments, early action on identifying and addressing risk, and increased availability and accessibility of nutritious foods (1).

In this issue, Browning, Laxer and Janssen report on two of the three priority areas in Canadian schools: the physical and social eating environments and the availability and accessibility of nutritious foods (p. 160). This national study involved 436 schools that participated in the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey, including primary and secondary, rural and urban schools. Data collected on healthy eating programs, healthy eating education, and the food and retail environments of these schools suggest that improvements are needed in all areas. For example, only 53% of the schools had a committee to oversee healthy eating. An average of 59% of schools offered cooking classes (33% of primary schools, 77% of high schools) and a small minority included activities such as gardening or field trips to grocery stores.

Examination of food retail environments found that 76% had soft drinks available in vending machines and many schools were located in close proximity to a fast food restaurant or convenience store. This national study identifies the substantial environmental barriers that exist for children in achieving healthy eating and offers baseline data that can be used to monitor progress of policies and programs aimed at improving the eating behaviour of school-aged children. Research is underway to examine the link between these school-level measures and children's specific eating behaviours.


(1.) Public Health Agency of Canada. Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights. Ottawa, ON; 2011.

A fin de mettre un frein au probleme de l'obesite infantile, les ministres de la Sante et de la Promotion de la sante ont etabli trois priorites politiques cles: la creation de milieux favorables, l'identification et la gestion rapides des risques, et l'amelioration de la disponibilite et de l'accessibilite des aliments nutritifs (1).

Dans ce numero, Browning, Laxer et Janssen abordent deux des trois priorites pour les ecoles canadiennes: le milieu social et physique associe a l'alimentation, et la disponibilite et l'accessibilite d'aliments nutritifs (p. 160). Au total, 436 ecoles ont pris part a cette etude nationale et ont participe a l'etude sur les comportements de sante des jeunes d'age scolaire (l'Enquete HBSC). Il s'agissait d'ecoles primaires et secondaires situees en regions rurales et urbaines. Les donnees recueillies sur les programmes portant sur la saine alimentation, l'enseignement de bonnes habitudes alimentaires et le contexte de detail des aliments dans ces ecoles suggerent que des ameliorations doivent etre apportees dans tous ces domaines. Par exemple, seulement 53 % de ces ecoles possedaient un comite charge de la saine alimentation. Une moyenne de 59 % des ecoles offrait des cours de cuisine (33 % des ecoles primaires et 77 % des ecoles secondaires) et une faible minorite proposait des activites telles que le jardinage ou des visites a l'epicerie.

L'examen des environnements de detail alimentaire a revele que 76 % des ecoles disposaient de machines distributrices offrant des boissons gazeuses et que beaucoup d'ecoles etaient situees pres de restaurants-minute ou de depanneurs. Cette etude nationale a permis d'identifier les obstacles environnementaux importants qui empechent les enfants d'adopter une saine alimentation et propose des donnees de reference qui peuvent etre utilisees afin de suivre les progres des politiques et programmes visant a ameliorer les comportements alimentaires des enfants d'age scolaire. Des recherches sont en cours en vue d'examiner le lien entre ces mesures dans les ecoles et les comportements alimentaires des enfants.

(Can J Diet Pract Res. 2013;74:156)

(Rev can prat rech dietet. 2013;74:156)

(DOI: 10.3148/74.4.2013.156)


(1.) Agence de la sante publique du Canada. Freiner l'obesite juvenile: cadre d'action federal, provincial et territorial pour la promotion du poids sante. Ottawa, ON; 2011.

Dawna Royall, MSc, RD

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Author:Royal, Dawna
Publication:Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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