UNICEF and the National Healthy Nutrition Center summed up the results of a study on evaluation of school meals in three regions of Kazakhstan

10 February 2023
School canteen in Almaty
UNICEF Kazakhstan

ASTANA, February 10, 2023 - UNICEF and the National Healthy Nutrition Center have completed a study on evaluation of school meals in schools in Shymkent, Turkestan and West Kazakhstan regions.

The study was conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan from September 2022 to January 2023.

The evaluation allowed obtaining more information about the school catering system, about the strengths and weaknesses of the existing school meal practice.

In the course of the study, the current legislation, regulatory legal acts on school meals and the health status of school-age children in Kazakhstan were analyzed.

The analysis showed that the norms of the needs of the country's population in nutrients and energy do not correspond to international standards and shall be revised and updated.

The norms of sugar and salt consumption in Kazakhstan standards in some cases exceed the international recommended standards.

It is necessary to improve and harmonize 12 regulatory legal acts regulating school meals.

During the evaluation, children and staff of school canteens, focus groups with parents were surveyed, the school menu was studied for compliance of the composition of dishes in terms of the content of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, micro/macronutrients, vitamins and calories with international and Kazakhstani norms of physiological need for nutrients and energy.

According to the survey of children, 59% of children like the current school menu and the meals offered, the remaining 21% of children either do not like the meals, or they do not eat at all in the school canteen - 20%.

Only half of the surveyed children (50%) know about the dangers of salt, the remaining 20% answered that salt is useful and 30% do not know the answer.

In general, in the studied schools, among all children and adolescents aged 6-17, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 18%, i.e. 12% and 6% respectively. Boys had a higher tendency to overweight and obesity (21%) than girls (16%).

Parents and children are positive about providing free school meals, but would like to expand the range of dishes, increase the number and variety of fruits.

Based on the results of the study, the main recommendations were developed to improve the school meals practice. The recommendations will be published after consultations with the relevant ministries.

Media contacts

Damir Kobzhassarov
Executive Director
National Healthy Nutrition Center
Tel: +77053113450

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