In 2007, the Edmonton Public School Board became the first school board in Alberta to ban the sale of junk food in schools.
On June 26, the Edmonton Journal published an article referencing the release of a study out of the University of New Brunswick which revealed a positive link between weight reduction and school jurisdictions banning junk food sales. Students who did not have access to junk-food purchases at school for five or more years, were on average, two pounds lighter than students in schools where junk food was sold.
For trustees who supported this decision in 2007, believing intuitively that banning junk food would inevitably have positive consequences for weight and health, this data is not surprising. The research is significant, however, in that it is the first Canadian data speaking to the value of banning junk food sales.
Since 2005, six provinces have imposed bans on junk-food sales in schools. Regrettably, Alberta is not one of those provinces. A recent study by the Alberta School Board Association on health policies in Alberta school districts revealed that only 15 per cent of Alberta boards have mandated the elimination of junk-food sales.
At this rate, it may be 20-30 years before Alberta catches up to other provinces. Provincial legislation would change the landscape immediately. Our current provincial government has been silent on junk food. The children of Alberta deserve more than silence.
Dave Colburn, former Edmonton Public Schools trustee, 2004-2013