In 2006/07 school year, the“EatSmart@school.hk”campaign was launched by the Department of Health (DH) in joint effort with the Education Bureau and stakeholders from various sectors. The campaign targets all primary schools and aims to tackle the worsening problem of childhood obesity, and to lower children's risk of diseases associated with eating habits.

The“EatSmart@school.hk”campaign has two major components: EatSmart School Accreditation Scheme (ESAS) and Joyful Fruit Day. The former provides guidance and assistance for schools to develop a sustainable healthy eating environment on campus while the latter promotes an atmosphere that supports fruit intake and cultivation of fruit eating habits among students. These initiatives are warmly welcomed by schools, and enthusiastically supported by stakeholders from various sectors, for which I extend my gratitude.

Our data show that the problem of overweight and obesity is rampant among local primary students; as about one in five is overweight or obese. This issue must be dealt with in a concerted manner. Faced with the challenge posed by undesirable food culture in various guises, for instance, ever-changing tactics that market fatty, sugary or high-salt foods to children, we must not waver in our efforts!

Schools are not only responsible for developing, implementing and promulgating policies that foster a supportive healthy eating environment, they also have to work with parents in monitoring the nutritional quality of school lunch and snacks, and give students guidance on how to make healthy food choices. Parents should act as role models for kids. They should acquire basic knowledge about how to maintain a balanced diet so as to help children cultivate positive eating habits. Food suppliers, as socially responsible corporations, should strengthen technical know-how, improve the management, production and supply of healthy lunch and snacks, enhance communication with schools and parents to promote healthier food choices, and encourage students to select food items good for health. We will continue to render professional support and work collaboratively with all stakeholders for the greatest impact on children's health.

I sincerely invite all primary schools to take part in the ESAS in our collective effort to build a learning atmosphere that is safer, healthier, happier and more caring, all for the sake of our children's healthy development.

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