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Healthier schools in Phnom Penh

The city has been working with the Partnership for Healthy Cities since 2017 to promote healthier food environments for kids.

In short

What’s happened? In July 2023, Phnom Penh’s Governor signed a new measure prohibiting the sale of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods in schools, in line with national guidelines.

Who will it impact? All public and private schools in the city—757 in total—must adhere to the local Instruction, creating healthier learning spaces for roughly 360,000 students.

Why is this important? In Cambodia, consumption of sugary drinks has been on the rise. Globally, 8 million deaths are associated with poor diet, a crisis that’s increasing most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries. Regulatory changes and proven food policy measures in a city's public settings, such as schools, are critical for achieving better public health outcomes in the long term.

Prioritizing healthy food

In 2016, Cambodian public health officials recognized a trend: Overconsumption of sugary drinks was becoming a problem, particularly in urban areas. Phnom Penh was eager to address the issue upon joining the Partnership for Healthy Cities in 2017, starting with a communications campaign targeted at families that tackled the dangers of sugary beverages.

It's an area the city has continued to focus on, most recently as part of the Partnership's Policy Accelerator—an initiative launched in 2021 that offers local governments tools, resources and opportunities for collaboration to help drive sustainable policy action at the city level.

The local restrictions are in line with 2019 national guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports that prohibit the sale of unhealthy foods, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco products in educational institutions and provides recommendations for healthier options. The city is the first urban center in Cambodia to adopt the measures locally—a move supported by the the city's education, health and law enforcement sectors.

We need to shape the mindset of our future generations, our kids, our children, and our citizens, for them to start adopting healthier choices from a young age.
Her Excellency Keo Sokpisey Vice Governor of Phnom Penh
2023 Healthy Cities Conference

Dr Siddhi Aryal, Regional Director, Asia Pacific speaks about the recent work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


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