A Senate bill looking to ban sugary drinks and junk food in public schools has been filed by Senator Lito Lapid, in a bid to address child obesity and malnutrition.
According to Inquirer, Senate Bill No. 1231 proposes to prohibit the sale, distribution, and promotion of such items inside and 100 meters from the perimeter of all public educational institutions.
It seeks to establish a healthy food and beverage program for all public elementary and secondary schools and learning institutions.
Lapid noted that a healthy diet is crucial in learning and cognitive development, citing several studies that show children who do not get adequate nutrition have learning difficulties, resulting in lower academic test scores.
“Maraming mga pag-aaral na ang nagpapakita na ang mga estudyanteng na hindi nakakakuha ng sapat na nutrisyon ay nahihirapang mag-pokus at matuto, na kadalasan ay humahantong sa mababang mga marka, o ‘di kaya naman, ay may posibilidad na huminto sa pag-aaral,” Lapid explained.
(Many studies have shown that students who do not get enough nutrition have difficulty focusing and learning, which often leads to low grades, or even the possibility to drop out.)
“Kung atin pong titiyakin na mayroong sapat akses ang mga mag-aaral sa mga pagkain na may mataas sa nutritional value, ay masisiguro natin na maitataas natin hindi lamang ang antas ng kalusugan ng mga mag-aaral, kundi pati na rin ang kanilang performance sa eskwelahan,” the senator said.
(If we ensure that students have access to food with high nutritional value, we can make sure that their health will improve as well as their performance in school.),” the senator explained.
Lapid cited a UNICEF Philippines 2014 report that showed that 95 children die from malnutrition every day in the Philippines. The lawmaker also said that there had been no improvements in the prevalence of malnutrition in the Philippines for the past 30 years, according a 2021 World Bank report.
The Philippines ranked fifth among countries in the East Asia and Pacific region with the highest prevalence of stunting, according to Lapid.
In 2020, the state-run think tank National Tax Research Center (NTRC) proposed an excise tax on junk food. These included burgers, fries, fried chicken, hotdog, pasta and pizza, as well as deep-fried and salty snacks, and sugary desserts and sweets.
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