THE people must realise that the risk of salt-linked illnesses are not distant but more immediate than they think, says North principal education officer Kolinio Takala.
Launching the National Salt Reduction Campaign in Labasa yesterday, Mr Takala told school heads, management and members of women's groups that the health and wellbeing of Fiji's young people were important.
"We need to acknowledge the growing body of evidence that underpins these concerns," he said.
"Current information available to us shows that one in five Fijian children is overweight or obese and the trend is increasing while on the other hand one in 10 children are underweight.
"The school canteen is identified as having an important role in the education and health of the students and school communities they serve." Mr Takala said a key objective of the Health Ministry was to assist the Education Ministry finalise the School Canteen Guidelines.
"The School Canteen Guidelines are an integral component of and will be implemented under the Health Promoting Schools program.
"Under the HPS program, school canteens play an important role in promoting good nutrition.
"HPS canteens make it possible for students to buy nutritious and healthy food at affordable prices which will allow break even or moderate profit during the school day.
"It also makes it easier for children to remain within the school grounds during lunch time for their own safety, while providing experiences of a variety of attractive, nutritious, tasty and different dishes."
The campaign's theme 'Cook with Less Salt: a pinch is all you need' targets every home in Fiji to reduce the amount of salt used in cooking and meal preparations.