Time and again, research has confirmed how important nutrition is to developmental outcomes in children. Experience with breakfast feeding programmes at primary schools confirmed the beneficial effects of regular meals to academic performance and drew attention to the relationship of irregular meals and violent temperament.
Work with primary schools and early childhood children confirmed the relationships of nutrition with academic and social behaviour and the importance of reaching parents to achieve sustainable outcomes. Parents and schools can collaborate to ensure good nutrition of their children.
The MOE was presented with the data on nutrition and improved academic performance. The relationship with violence reduction is also of concern because of community violence spilling over into schools. The JINN implements curricula, parent involvement, and community development programmes.
More recent work of the JINN with the Ministry of National Security confirmed the double burden of disease in students where underweight sits side by side with obesity as challenges especially in students at puberty. While boys are more at risk for underweight and violence, girls are at greater risk of obesity. Parents and schools do not make enough distinction in age and sex appropriate feeding and herein lies the consequences.
Feeding strategies need better targeting from puberty based on sex as well as SES at both school and home. School food coordinators and parents should be educated on feeding children appropriately at different ages as a strategy towards mitigating the serious problems of obesity, underweight and violence in Jamaica.
Parents will be convinced about the influence of nutrition in raising the children of Jamaica and to mobilize the relevant related organizations to give the proper importance to nutrition promotion in their programmes. The planned ‘on the ground’ efforts will support the government mass messages to apprise the population of the seriousness of the problems in communities and schools with respect to low performance, violence and rising rates of obesity.
We train school food personnel in incorporating nutrition standards into the school feeding programmes and meals will reflect appropriate portions by age, amounts of salt/sodium used, and fat and sugar standards.
Parents, teachers and school communities will be more aware of their roles and responsibilities for successful implementation of a school nutrition programme and health promoting schools.