One-third of the children and teens in elementary and high schools are overweight or obese, according to a survey conducted by the Public Health each year.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE) are doing its share to promote healthy eating in schools.

To battle obesity, the MOH and MOE have partnered together to develop nutrition policies and engage parents and the community in promoting healthy eating among young people.

Edolm Ikerdeu Chief of the Division of Primary & Preventive Health said that surveys conducted every year has shown that one third of schoolchildren in elementary schools are either overweight or obese. Same survey conducted among high school students yielded the same results.

Ikerdeu said the government is prioritizing the kids’ health with the ongoing promotion of healthy eating as part of an ongoing collaboration between educators and health personnel.

She said MOE, MOH, and Roanoke College are working together to develop a healthy eating education and awareness program.

Through this collaboration, Ikerdeu said focus group discussions have been conducted with many parents, students and other community members “to identify what we have in our communities that promote healthy eating, what we need in terms of education and other factors, and the ideas on how we can help each other promote healthy eating.”

Ikerdeu, however, said MOE has already introduced initiatives in schools by serving healthier meals in school lunches in public schools.

She, however, said there are still challenges in improving the quality of food served in schools; many schools lack the equipment, training, and staff to prepare food for the kids.

But, she said the ongoing education and awareness initiative being conducted by MOE and MOH with the help of the national government are steps to get support from the community to get them behind healthy changes.

According to a study by the World Health Organization in 2016, obesity prevalence is generally highest the Pacific where it reached more than 30 percent among both girls and boys in the Cook Islands, Nauru, and Palau.  (Bernadette H. Carreon)