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Belgian minister vows to combat child obesity

Published on 09/08/2004

9 August 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s new minister for youth, children and health has pledged to make the fight against obesity in children her first priority.

In an interview in La Derniere Heure on Monday, Christian Democrat Catherine Doyen-Fonck said she would be campaigning for better nutrition in schools.

Doyen-Fonck said she had become more aware of children’s eating habits since her three-year-old daughter had started school.

“I became aware that often what you give your child to eat at their 10am break is not what they end up eating. They swap sweets and prefer things that are not so healthy,” she said.

Nutritional problems could have serious consequences for children, such as diabetes in later life, she argued.

“Prevention and the promotion of better food in schools is a priority,” Doyen-Fonck urged.

“Everyone who has a role to play in educating children must be involved. They must be aware of the issues. No minister alone can solve the problem.”

Doyen-Fonck has set her sights on tackling vending machines selling drinks and sweetened foods in schools.

“We must act urgently on this aspect of food in schools,” she said.

But the minister has admitted her ambitious plans may face budgetary constraints.

“I will not be able to do everything straight away, that would be lying. We can allocate money for various projects as soon as we know the overall budget,” she said.

But the minister argued that the long term benefits of the plans would be a money-saving measure.

Doyen-Fonck said she is also laying out plans to involve children in more physical activities and sport. 

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news