Calorie-counted meals in schools soon

Updated 19 February 2014

Calorie-counted meals in schools soon

The Ministry of Education intends to establish a body that will make sure school cafeterias provide healthy food. The move will involve providing licenses to restaurants and food catering firms to provide nutritious meals to students.
The proposed body will focus on adopting healthy eating styles by monitoring the quality of food and calories in the meals provided to students at public schools. The project will also involve establishing modern kitchens that provide fresh meals and juices in the neighborhoods adjacent to school premises.
“Providing licenses to restaurants and food catering firms to supply nutritious meals for students at school is undoubtedly an exceptional move by the Ministry of Education, as this will lead to the development of healthy eating habits among school students,” said Fathiha Wajahat, clinical dietitian, researcher and developer in diabetes and weight management.
“Lack of awareness about the daily nutritional requirements of the body and the increase of obesity and other diseases are serious concerns in our modern age,” said Wajahat. “This plan will change the eating habits of students and also help them make healthy food choices.”
Wajahat added that school canteens suffer from an absence of trained professionals to monitor the quality of food served to students and other hygiene issues, which lead to food-borne diseases.
The project was developed by Ghada Al-Kulaip for the Ministry of Education and submitted to King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Project for the Development of Public Education (Tatweer Education Holding Company) for its endorsement and implementation at public schools in the Kingdom.
Al-Kulaip said the Healthy Eating Commission will be entrusted with the tasks of organizing and developing meal sales at schools after applying defined health standards on food and beverages. It will also remove any unhealthy foodstuff from the menus provided to students, and will grant licensing to a number of food catering companies according to predefined health standards. More than 25,000 daily meals will be provided in compliance with the American standard of calorie-count.
The government move follows the recommendation of a study was commissioned to combat the rise in cases of diabetes and obesity among the Saudi youth.
Al-Kulaip added that around 5 million male and female students at public schools consume meals containing saturated oils, fats and sugar that accumulate over time and increase obesity rates, diabetes and blood pressure.
“An increasing number of food-poisoning cases among students have been reported in public schools during the past year, as a result of lack of food safety in school canteens,” said Al-Kulaip.
“There are more than a million and a half who suffer from diabetes and a similar number of people are diagnosed with blood pressure and dental problems, not to mention the large number that visit obesity clinics,” she pointed out.
According to Al-Kulaip, these statistics clearly indicate the size of the problems in the health care sector as well as the administrative and financial costs that the Saudi society will bear in this regard. “This calls for an urgent need to raise awareness among students and the educational community on the importance of introducing a healthy lifestyle in terms of food and beverage to reduce such widespread diseases.”
With over 25,473 public schools in the Kingdom and over 5 million students studying, this initiative intends to help schools reduce the daily portion of calories that the students consume significantly, and raise the proportion of vitamins and fibers in the youth’s daily meals.


Saudi minister of foreign affairs receives US envoy to Riyadh

Updated 10 December 2019

Saudi minister of foreign affairs receives US envoy to Riyadh

  • US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid visited Adel Al-Jubeir on Monday

RIYADH: US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid called on Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir on Monday. During the meeting, they reviewed bilateral relations between the two friendly countries and discussed issues of mutual interest.

Al-Jubeir also held a separate meeting with a delegation of the US EastWest Institute, which was led by John Hurley. During the meeting, which was attended by a number of officials, they reviewed historical Saudi-US ties and the Kingdom’s stances on different regional and international issues.