LOULÉ SECONDARY school received a visit from the Ministers for Education and Health last week. Ministers, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues (Education) and Correia de Campos (Health) visited the school to take part in a meeting to highlight the importance of fighting obesity in today’s society.
Education for a healthy lifestyle formed the focus of the discussions and the opportunity was also taken by the Ministers to launch a new book published in conjunction with the two ministries entitled Educação Alimentar em Meio Scolar (Nutrition Education in School).
Joining Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues and Correia de Campos were the President of Loulé Câmara, Seruca Emídio and prominent Portuguese Psychologist, Daniel Sampaio.
At the launch of the book, Correia de Campos described obesity as the largest epidemic of the 21st century and pointed out the fact that 37 per cent of adults in Portugal are overweight and, of that percentage, 13 per cent are obese. “If we do not do anything, by 2025, 50 per cent of the population will be obese,” he said. He also explained that the problem among young people is even more serious.
The Minister for Health highlighted the speed at which obesity has taken hold of the population and explained that: “The percentage of overweight people in Portugal has increased from 10 per cent to 37 per cent in the last decade, which is worrying,” he said.
The reasons for this, he suggested, include the force with which fast food has invaded the world, putting the traditional Mediterranean diet in the shade, in conjunction with the present culture of people taking little, or no exercise.
Correia de Campos emphasised that imagination must be used to ensure healthier eating among school pupils and gave Sopalândia (soupland), a project launched throughout all Loulé schools, as an example.
The Sopalândia project was launched in Loulé schools in 2004, seeking to encourage young people to enjoy eating soup. The pupils collect recipes, are taught about food and learn to make soup themselves. The project has been supported by Loulé Câmara and has attracted high praise from both the Ministries for Health and Education.
In fact, Correia de Campos said that he had referred to the project at a health conference he attended in Finland and that it was an idea “much appreciated by the Finnish people”.
Pyschologist, Daniel Sampaio explained that “we cannot provide health education unless we work together (the two ministries), in practical terms, every day”. He also said that the new book was published to serve as a “reference tool” for schools in their work to improve the eating habits and nutrition of pupils.
“The book is simple, instructive, suitable for everyone and has been well put together,” Sampaio explained. The book explains from A to Z what must and must not form the diet of adolescents.
In order to improve the future outlook for young people in nutritional terms, Correia de Campos also highlighted that it is important to find ways in which to work together with the food industry and devise strategies that will benefit the industry and the population at the same time.
The joint visit also served to announce future partnerships between the two ministries, in light of the fact that Health and Education “are inseparable” considered Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues. Sex education, drugs and violence are three other areas in which the two ministries intend to work together.