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Against a background of an increase in mental health problems among students in recent years,food-related health problems are also being indicated,such as the increasing number of students who do not eat breakfast and imbalanced intake of nutrients-lack of calcium and overabundance of fatty foods.As also indicated in the September1997report of the Health and Physical Education Council,it is believed that food-related instruction plays an extremely important role as part of health education,which cultivates the foundation of lifelong mental and physical health.Food-related instruction is a part of health education carried out through school activities,and it is essential not only to teach food-related awareness to children but also to develop a practical attitude toward combining this awareness with desirable eating habits.Schools include school lunch instruction in Special Activities.They also conduct foodrelated instruction,such as instruction aimed at deepening the understanding of students toward:l)"The necessity to lead a life where exercise,rest,sleep and diet are all well-balanced with each other for promoting health,"in elementary school Physical Education(health fields),2)"The ability to promote health by balancing the quantity and quality of nutrition in one's diet in accordance with age and physical activities,"in lower secondary school Health and Physical Education(health-related areas),and3)"The importance of appropriate diet,exercise and rest in order to promote health"in upper secondary school Health and Physical Education(curriculurn health).The July1998report of the Curriculum Council indicated the necessity to respond to the problems of irregular lifestyle habits,including eating habits and the problems of lifestylerelated diseases.In response to this report,MESSC will make revisions to Courses of Study and will enhance food-related inshuction through classes such as Health and Physical Education,Home Economics and Industrial Arts and Special Activities.
In order to conduct food-related instruction more efficiently,schools should coordinate subjects and positively cooperate with the household and the community.For this purpose MESSC,since FY1994,has been implementing model projects to conduct practical research into the creation of a system for promoting food-related instruction,and into cooperation between the household and the community.Since FY1996,based on the results from the model projects,"Surveys and Research for Developing a Curriculum in Nutritional Education"have been implemented as a guideline for teachers and school nutritionists to address food-related instruction.The FY1998 supple-mentary budget allowed for the revenue necessary for equipping school kitchens and other areas with computers,and for conducting research to reflect the practical results of this in the development of a nutritional education curriculum.In addition,in the new school term of FY1998,a Week to Cultivate an Appreciation for School Lunches targeted at lower secondary schools was carried out,and various projects were implemented using school lunches to cultivate sympathy and rich hearts among students.
Due to an amendment of the Education Personnel Certification Law MESSC was able to take advantage of the expansion of target subjects and simplification of procedures for special part-time teachers.In June1998,MESSC instructed each prefectural board of education to carry out more effective instruction by using the positive participation and cooperation in school classes of school nutritionists-food-related experts,as independently deemed necessary by schools.Some specific methods for doing this include the development of team teaching by a school teacher and a nutritionist,and lectures on"food"given by nutritionists acting as special part-time teachers.
In recent years,in line with the increase in foodrelated issues and the student health problems which are caused by them,the enhancement of food-related instruction as part of health education is growing in importance.Indeed,not only must scbool nutritionists use their specialized knowledge and techniques to provide safe school lunches abundant in nutrients,but they are also expected to actively cooperate and participate in class instruction and school lunchrelated instruction.For this purpose,great efforts have been made to improve the quality of school nutritionists.Since FY1997,MESSC has expanded the number of days of induction training for newly employed nutritionists from nine to27,and has implemented new in-service training for nutritionists who already have five,ten or20years'experience.
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