ACT students will learn about good nutrition, healthy eating and even food advertising under a school curriculum to be launched on Thursday.
The new Food&ME curriculum features nutrition education units aimed at pupils in kindergarten, years 1 and 2, years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6. A unit for year 7 and 8 pupils is being developed and is planned for release early next year.
ACT acting chief health officer Andrew Pengilley said the curriculum focused on educating children "in an effort to give them better information and skills about how to buy, choose and prepare food".
"It's also talking about issues about the importance of food to your long-term health; what happens to us if we eat a bad diet and if we eat a good diet," he said.
"There's also some awareness about how advertising presents food for the older kids and there's some skill-based learning in terms of how to prepare good food."
Dr Pengilley said children were faced with a "complicated food environment" with much advertising and many different food types.
"By giving children an understanding at an early stage, we're really hoping to form some baseline habits which will lead them throughout their lives and, hopefully, avoid the long-term consequences for their health that comes from being overweight," he said.
Recent research estimates one in four Canberra children is obese or overweight.
Leanne Wright, director, learning and teaching for the Education and Training Directorate, said the online curriculum resources would be available to all ACT teachers.
She said they had been developed over the past two years with Nutrition Australia.
The curriculum was trialled in seven ACT schools during its development.
Ms Wright believes there is a need for such a curriculum in ACT schools.
"Certainly, we know the evidence around the benefits for good nutrition and nutrition starting early in life and so what we're hoping is the programs and curriculums run in schools contribute to students being really well informed around what can contribute to good health outcomes for them through having an understanding of healthy eating and nutrition," she said.
"There's lots of interactive activities for students and there's a hands-on component which is the cooking side of things.
"Then there's the opportunity for students to take the recipes home to engage in conversations with parents about their learning."
The ACT government is also planning to ban soft drinks at schools by the end of the year. Last month, it released a proposal to introduce a traffic-light food rating system for school activities and events in the ACT and ban vending machines in public schools.
The draft policy is open for public comment until next month.