Sugar Mountain

Obesity rates have nearly tripled for youth in the last couple decades. Progressive Conservatives began tackling good nutrition in schools at the end of John Hamm’s tenure as Premier. They ignored the insults of “Big Brother” and listened to parents and doctors who were worried about a massive increase in childhood diabetes. At least they tried.

One of their efforts called on all school boards, parents, and volunteers to adhere to the Food & Nutrition policy for schools and replace fundraisers involving chocolate bars and cookies with other fundraising events (sports, fun fairs) and/or more healthy snacks like popcorn.

New governments could go “scorched earth”, systematically reversing every single initiative of previous governments. But to what end? Spending all that time reversing things would become the focus of your government. Instead, political leaders should smartly tweak some policies and leave other policies alone. That is what smart governments do.

The NDP reached out to parents and doctors again, getting input from over a thousand groups and individuals, to inform a Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategy. You can read the public’s comments at the link.

Talk of “Big Brother” reared it’s head again, coming from within the Liberal Party, with coverage on CBC and in the Herald critical of these steps to foster an environment of better nutrition.

The debate broke out of Twitter as well:

Pamela Lovelace: Been working in marketing communications for 20 years. I know a story when I see one. #CakeGate

caitfem: I made a vegan choc cake for my kid’s spring fair that was v. delicious, thankyouverymuch. Really, though, this is long overdue.

Ken_Donnelly: The ban on cakes is stupid, regardless. #bigbrother

WilliamCMurray: The rules were changed 5 years ago. The schools didn’t implement. Blame the school, not the policy.

AnthonyMartinNS: Ken, I hear the SWAT helicopters flying over my house, heading towards your house. FYI. Flush the evidence.

esooze: I get the fundraising challenges. But isn’t it also schools’ job to be forming & reinforcing healthy values? Walking the talk?

WilliamCMurray: I love sweets! I just don’t want to leverage my kids health against fund raising. We can be socially responsible.

Pamela Lovelace: It’s not govt’s business to tell parents that we can’t sell sweets to raise money.

WilliamCMurray: It just makes sense for schools that educate health to also supply moderately healthy options. It’s a mind shift but logical.

Pamela Lovelace: What is wrong with frosting!?

WilliamCMurray: People support fairs a) for the kids and b) because they are fun. If you make a fun event, you raise lots of money for the kids.

Pamela Lovelace: Govt is telling parents what we can and cannot sell. It is my right to sell a cake.

allisomething: When I was in High School, parents were fighting to take sweets out of schools.

brightwhite: i support healthy eating, and fat kids (and parents) annoy me, but this goes too far.

allisomething: All bake sales & cafeteria junk food was banned when I was in HS. It’s an issue now for spring flings? An oversight.

brightwhite: this has nothing to with health and more to do with over-governance and the nanny state.

allisomething: Can I start smoking in public schools? NANNY STATE. In PUBLIC buildings the gov’t should foster healthy environment.

WilliamCMurray: Point is the policy was about reasonably raising healthy options in school for kids. Period.

Pamela Lovelace: So says you. Seems you are in the minority position. Isn’t democracy great?

WilliamCMurray: Using our kids and their health as a tool to make a democracy point is an interesting spin. Good luck.

Pamela Lovelace: thank you, but I don’t need luck. People are outraged at NSNDP

WilliamCMurray: Thats funny. A) no they’re not and B) it was a PC policy. ‘Sugar for Kids’ is not a great Liberal platform.

The issue is not about “declaring war on cake” – it’s about reinforcing good nutrition at schools. Childhood obesity is serious. Asking parents to combat poor nutrition by limiting salt, fat, sugar in lunches and school fundraisers is a step forward.