In June 2015 the Cabinet Strategy Committee invited the Minister of Health, in consultation with other Ministers, to report back to the Cabinet Social Policy Committee with recommendations on a proposed package of initiatives relating to childhood obesity.1
The resulting Cabinet Paper noted that the Education Review Office would produce a national report assessing ‘the current status of food, nutrition, and physical activity in schools and early childhood services’, and would also report on findings about those Health Promoting Schools (HPS) included in the evaluation sample.
ERO gathered information about 202 early learning services during their regular education reviews during Term 1, 2016. A further 46 primary schools and 29 secondary schools were reviewed with an evaluative focus on food, nutrition and physical activity. Primary schools were visited during Term 1, 2016. Secondary schools were visited during Term 2, 2016. Further information about how the schools were selected is in Appendix 1.
In each school and service, ERO asked:
How well does the service/school promote positive attitudes to physical activity and food and nutrition to benefit children?
This report gives examples of effective practice for supporting children and young people’s learning about food, nutrition and physical activity. It includes examples of common challenges faced by services and schools, and ways leaders and teachers have found to respond to these challenges.
This report complements ERO’s Food, nutrition and physical activity in New Zealand schools and early learning services: key findings report. The key findings report provides an overview of the findings and the characteristics that supported schools and services to do well.
ERO found that most schools and services were doing a good job of equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make healthy choices around food, nutrition and physical activity.
Young people told ERO that even though they knew what to do, they were not always able to make these healthy choices. Environmental and financial constraints limited their ability to participate in physical activity. They were restricted in their ability to make healthy nutritional choices by the food that was available to them, either as a result of what was affordable, or what their parents chose to provide.
Schools and early learning services can teach children and young people to value healthy food, nutrition and physical activity. To effectively change behaviour, parents, whānau, local government and the wider community needs to work together to support children and young people with opportunities to make the best choices for their health and wellbeing.