Eat healthy in Gdansk

I don't need to convince anybody to the benefits of healthy eating, especially in adolescence. Well, maybe except for... our children who are naturally driven to high-sugar drinks and large amounts of junk food. They just don't want to bother thinking about it. But we need to eat healthy in Gdansk, too. This is why our local government take the issue very seriously and want to do its best to promote healthy way of life.

In Gdansk, last year, we launched an ambitious pro-health program "We eat healthy in Gdansk" and this time we want to train those responsible for nutrition in educational institutions. In the first pilot year, twenty five schools and kindergartens took part in the program in which we educated one hundred people.

2016-09-14-1473834695-9864060-healthydpaszlinski.jpg Photo: D. Paszlinski The matter gains urgency in light of some alarming new facts: experts report that the health of Polish children is deteriorating rapidly.

Unfortunately, Poland ranks first in Europe in terms of growth in the number of overweight children and obesity, diabetes and hypertension. In the last 20 years, the number of overweight children increased three times and our teenagers are among the most obese youth of the world. As many as 18.3 percent 11 and 12-year-olds are overweight and 3.4 percent are obese. We need to act quickly. 80 percent of children with obesity age will become obese adults. What's worse, obese people are at big risk of cardiovascular disease.

As our year-old pilot program "We eat healthy in Gdansk." comes to a close this month, we commit to extending it for three additional years, funding, educating and monitoring special cadre of nutritionists in 140 institutions.

Healthy meals for Gdansk schools and kindergartens, changing eating habits of students and young adults, reducing unnecessary weight and training nutritionists and cooks. And, last but not least - developing the first in Poland application that allows parents to track children's meals in educational institutions. These are the first effects of the program.

"We eat healthy in Gdansk" started in 2015; the pilot program was attended by 25 schools and kindergartens. Ultimately, within three years it will cover all educational institutions in Gdansk, where food is served - a total of 140 kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools?

Better meals at schools It was initiated by parents dissatisfied with meals in Gdansk educational and child care institutions. As a mayor, I met with them, listened to them, and then we joined forces and created a wonderful project, the center of which is a child. The main objective of the program is to improve the nutrition of children and youth in educational institutions in Gdansk. It involved schools, kindergartens, nurseries, and a group of health professionals and nutritionists. I met with school catering workers, cooks and nutritionists and told them how important they have become. Over the years they were on the margins of schools and kindergartens.

Today the person responsible for nutrition in school or kindergarten is like as an officer on the battlefield. Previously on the periphery, now he/she is the centre.

Buying food, planning menus for institutions, shaping our eating habits and our life styles. This is extremely important. We provided our staff with training, education and know-how to become better at what they do.

Now our children eat healthier and feel better. We work together. Under the "We eat healthy in Gdansk" program, by 2018 we will train all Gdansk cooks, kitchen aids, and nutritionists - a total of 700 people. Our goal - healthier but also attractive nutrition of children and young people and improvement of communication about the nutrition of children in kindergartens and schools between educational institutions and parents or guardians.

In our beautiful Hevelianum centre last week 20 schools, kindergartens and child care facilities participating in the program received certificates, and even two special awards.

2016-09-14-1473834645-9338158-healthy2dpaszlinski.jpg A kindergarten awarded with money for upgrading kitchen equipment. Photo: D. Paszlinski

2016-09-14-1473834738-8948675-healthy3dpaszlinski.jpg Photo: D. Paszlinski