Health begins in the context of our everyday lives, including in the places we live, eat, work and play. Health is not just about the absence of disease, but also the physical, mental and social wellbeing (Scully, 2004). Many factors are involved to influence the health of communities, such as social, cultural, economic and physical environments. My goal is to advocate for healthy school environments. Children of all ethnicities and socio-economic groups spend most of their waking hours together in schools, and therefore, schools are ideal environments for the promotion and establishment of healthy living in children. I believe that advocating for a healthy school community involves promoting: 1) healthy eating and 2) daily physical activity.
1. Healthy eating
A healthy diet during childhood supports optimal health, growth and cognitive development, as well as aid in the prevention of chronic illness later in life (Van Cauwenberghe et al., 2010). Because children spend many hours per day in school, a significant amount of their total daily calories are consumed at school (Wechsler, Devereaux, Davis & Collins, 2000). Students can obtain low-nutrient products such as chips, ice creams, carbonated beverages and sweetened fruit juices in school cafeterias, vending machines and school stores (Wechsler et al., 2000). For example, vending machines were highly accessible in my high school. We had five of them in the cafeteria and one more in the front lobby. My friends and I regularly purchased snacks and beverages such as chips, chocolates, and sodas from the machines mainly because they were inexpensive. I merely cared about taste (ie: sweet, salty) and affordability, and the poor nutritional values of these (unhealthy) products never crossed my mind. As I grew older I understood the negative impacts and concerns of low nutrient, energy-dense foods. Now, I am more cautious of what I consume because I want to live a healthful life. I gathered...