Nutrition Education Should Be a Compulsory Part of School Education: Physical Education Teachers Can Contribute More Towards the Overall Well-Being of Children

The role of Physical Education teachers should be extended beyond delivering physical education curriculum and organizing sports days. In these times when we are witnessing a sharp decline in the nutritional value of food, there is an urgent need for nutritional guidance for children starting from a young age. Physical Education teachers have already studied basic nutrition during their university days, with some added training, nutrition workshops and certificate courses, they could be empowered to educate children about the right nutrition.

The post covid world has changed in many ways, common people who would barely ever worry about the nutritional value of the food they are eating on a daily basis are now aware of what they are eating and how it will impact their immunity and overall health. The Covid era has certainly taught us the importance of immunity, and this has been one of the greatest lessons that we have learned the hard way. We also need to understand that we need to prepare for the future as well. We never know if this virus will have further mutations or not, it is also about decreasing the nutritional value of food that we are procuring from markets. With the depleting soil quality due to increasing commercialization of agriculture and access use of chemical-based fertilizers, the food grown on this land is also losing its nutritional value, therefore we need to ensure that our children are getting the right kind of nutrition in order to ensure that they achieve optimum growth physically and mentally.

Because teachers spend a great deal of time with students, they can serve as role models for positive intervention in students’ nutritional habits. Physical education teachers are at the forefront of nutrition education compared to other teachers, since they have already studied sports nutrition at the university level. Using the physical education and sports education model to teach nutrition concepts is a fun and engaging way for students to learn foundational nutrition concepts that are essential for general health and well-being and sports performance.  According to researchers and health professionals, educating youth about proper nutrition habits requires a multifaceted approach. If physical education teachers are also trained and certified in basic nutrition then they can contribute to a schoolwide approach to teaching nutrition from a fresh perspective by teaching nutrition in physical education classes.

The most effective method of increasing knowledge and changing behaviors has been found to be engaging students in nutrition education through examples they can relate to and capturing their interest. Therefore a dynamic and engaging physical education curriculum that emphasizes the importance of both regular physical activity and appropriate nutritional choices is also essential. According to experts, nutrition education needs to be integrated into a comprehensive school health education program, which is planned, ongoing, systematic, sequential, and standards-based, and which is taught by preservice and in-service teachers at the elementary level, and certified or licensed physical education at the middle and high school levels.

This can be a significant step in the progress of school education since it will impact students on many levels. Early practice can be used to introduce health and nutrition values comprehensively since habits and thinking can be easily altered at a young age. The knowledge of nutrition can be easily ingrained in the minds of younger kids in the classroom. Consequently, children will learn the importance of healthy eating habits early on and will develop healthy eating habits on their own. Providing students with the foundation and resources they need to maintain good health can be made easier with a credible nutrition education structure embossed in physical education and sports science curriculum, which will also ensure a greater role for physical education teachers in the overall education system.

The prevalence of pandemics and viral diseases around us also raises the need for nutritional education to help improve the health of children and families. Due to increased hours of inactivity, our young population is more vulnerable than ever to an increasing number of lifestyle-related challenges such as obesity, diabetes, and other health risks. Studies have shown that children’s immune systems are less effective than those of adults, which means they are more likely to contract an infection and need more time to recover. Therefore considering the situation urgent and implementing a strategy to deal with it as soon as possible is therefore crucial. We firmly believe that the teaching of nutrition should be made an unavoidable part of education. By practicing healthy habits every day, we will further pave the way for healthy discussions, activities, and increased nutrition knowledge, like in a few western countries that do it very well at the school level.

Yogesh Sharma
Special Projects & Marketing Specialist @ PEFI


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