There’s an old Latin saying from the writings of the Roman poet Juvenal: “Mens sana in corpore sano,” or “A sound mind in a sound body.” Many schools have adopted this saying as a motto, to mean that educating and nurturing the mind should be done hand in hand with maintaining health, through physical activity and a balanced diet.
In a world where obesity is a growing epidemic among developed populations, such a mindset is essential in protecting the health of children. According to the World Health Organization, since 1975, obesity rates have tripled, and in 2016, over 340 million children between ages 5 and 19 were overweight or obese. In the same year, some 13% of the world population was obese, and it’s a problem that continues to grow.
Schools have a responsibility to help their students maintain their health, and it all starts with the food that they serve to the children.
Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai complies with the Food Safety Department of the Dubai Municipality, in banning a variety of unhealthy foods from being served to students, including energy drinks, soft drinks, fatty foods, sweets with excessive sugar, and candy.
However, more than just avoiding these particularly unhealthy foods, the school also aims to promote healthy foods that fulfill the recommended daily intake of vegetables, fruit, cereals, and other nutritious sources. It employs an in-house caterer who serves primarily organic protein, as well as local vegetables. In addition, SISD also offers two menu options, each with a vegetarian option, and each is prepared with care by skilled staff, in a kitchen environment that is regularly inspected.
Swiss International School Dubai places importance on nutrition in school because we believe that a proper, balanced school lunch doesn’t just promote students’ health, but also improves learning. A good diet filled with foods that give energy promotes concentration and ensures a proper atmosphere for learning. This comes in contrast to the kinds of unhealthy sugary or high-carb foods that can not only contribute to diabetes in the long run, but even in the short-term, it’s proven that foods with a high glycemic index can make one feel tired and sluggish, certainly not helpful for learning.
What’s more, in articles 24, 2c and e of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it’s indicated that “children are entitled to receive adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, and to have a knowledge of nutrition.” There are few places better-equipped and better-suited for the fulfillment of such rights than in school. As a boarding school that aims to act as a truly nurturing second home for its students, SISD is in a position to provide these nutritious foods, and instill an appreciation for health and nutrition in its students.
Certainly, the basic responsibility for food education rests on the shoulders of family, but children are also influenced by a lot of external factors, such as media and advertising, the kinds of commercial food they eat outside, and the people they’re exposed to. By ensuring that its students live in an environment that promotes good health, Swiss International School Dubai plays an instrumental role in ensuring their future health, building sound minds just as well as sound bodies.