Norwich pupils launch healthy eating campaign

Pupils from a city school were given an important lesson in how to eat healthily as part of the launch of a new campaign to promote the importance of fruit and vegetables.

Youngsters from Magdalen Gates Primary School on Bull Close Road, Norwich, were among those who helped launch the NHS-backed Change4Life Convenience Store Campaign at the Spar store on Waterloo Road, Norwich.

Children were given a goody bag, including a piece of fruit, and completed a quiz to publicise the campaign's healthy eating and active lifestyle ethos.

Nicola Owens, a reception class teacher at Magdalen Gates Primary who attended the launch and who has helped promote healthy eating at the school, said the children enjoyed being part of the launch.

She said: 'They understood what it was all about. Over the past year we've been working a lot with children on eating more healthily and having more cooking experience and skills so it fitted in really well.

'Change4Life is something we've been part of for the past year and there's lots of initiatives to encourage children to exercise more and eat better. Our school dinners are of a much higher quality now with a larger selection of fruit and vegetables on offer.'

The campaign was launched yesterday at the Spar store, the Roy's store at Bowthorpe, Londis in Thetford and Costcutter in King's Lynn.

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All the stores will sell a wider range of fruit and vegetables and prominently display the produce for customers and in return the Department of Health has provided funding to buy fruit and vegetable chillers, stands and marketing materials.

A project co-ordinator will also work with the stores and offer advice on maximising profits and minimising waste, as well as displaying and promoting the new fresh produce to the local community.

The campaign is a part of the Department of Health's Change4Life coalition, aimed at reversing the rising tide of obesity and encouraging everyone – businesses, local community groups, charities and parents – to get involved in the movement and make positive changes to their lifestyle.

The stores will be encouraged to link their efforts to promote the 5-a-day message to other local schemes, such as cooking clubs, in a bid to help their customers learn more about how to easily include more fruit and vegetables in their weekly diet. Nutritional information and training will also be offered to store staff so that they are able to talk about the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables

Alex Lynch, NHS Norfolk's Change4Life Co-ordinator, said: 'The initiative benefits the stores involved and makes it easier and more convenient for everyone to eat more healthily.'

The government has been working with the Association of Convenience Stores and its membership in the East of England including Spar, Costcutter, Londis and Nisa Local.

All retailers have agreed to match fund the government's contributions.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: 'Local shops are at the heart of communities, and Change4Life's help in improving the fruit and vegetables on offer in these stores can make a huge difference to the diet choices that people can make.'

Lucy Macleod, an NHS Norfolk Consultant in Public Health, said: 'In Norfolk, on average, more than a quarter – 26.85pc – of all adults are obese. In today's 24/7 society, people may want to adopt a healthier lifestyle but think they don't have time to commit to it, so we are saying to them, why not visit your local convenience store and start today?'

Other schools involved in yesterday's launch included St Michael's Church of England Primary in King's Lynn, Redcastle Furze Primary in Thetford and St Michael's VA Junior in Norwich.