The Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia has released a new report: Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in K-12: An Independent Audit.
The office found that the ministries of Health and Education have come together to develop healthy eating and physical activity initiatives for schools, but need to do more to effectively oversee this area.
“The greatest opportunity for shaping the future health of people in B.C. is through positively influencing the health and well-being of children,” said Auditor General Carol Bellringer. “Schools are an ideal setting, because they can reach almost every child in B.C. and, by extension, their families.”
Healthy eating and physical activity lower the risk of chronic disease, which is the largest burden on B.C.’s health-care system. Chronic diseases affect one in three people, and their treatment uses approximately 80% of the combined medical service plan (MSP), PharmaCare and acute-care budgets.
Bellringer’s team looked at ministries of Health and Education’s oversight of seven healthy eating and physical activity programs, to assess whether the ministries are working together effectively. These included programs and policies, such as Healthy Schools BC, the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program and CommunityLINK funding for meal programs.
“The ministries have not communicated their shared, overarching direction to the health authorities and school districts to promote healthy eating and physical activity,” said Bellringer. This has contributed to many districts not prioritizing healthy eating and physical activity initiatives, which could impact the health of children and youth, increasing their risk for future chronic disease.
The report contains eight recommendations to improve the ministries of Health and Education’s oversight of healthy eating and physical activity initiatives in K-12, including maximizing access for vulnerable students, monitoring programs for effectiveness, and addressing barriers to the implementation of programs and policies.
The full report is available on the Office of the Auditor General website.