Fruit and vegetables are the weapons in a new campaign by health chiefs to tackle child obesity. In a DoH programme, parents are set to receive vouchers for free fruit and veg.
The campaign is designed to promote lifelong healthy eating habits and tackle obesity.
Health secretary John Reid said it was aimed at improving nutrition among young children in poorer families.
He said last week a report by doctors classed 9% of children aged between two and four
years old as obese. “Although I believe it’s not the government’s role to lecture people on how to live, it is our responsibility to provide the means to follow a healthier lifestyle.
“The best way of tackling obesity is through encouraging a healthy diet at an early age.”
The programme is part of a reform of the Welfare Food Scheme. Currently, parents receive tokens for milk, however the tokens will be replaced with vouchers which can be used for either milk or fresh produce.
The vouchers will be worth
£2.80 a week for families with children aged over one year old, or £5.60 for families with children under a year old. The vouchers will be exchangeable in a wide range of retail outlets, from independent stores to supermarkets, Reid added.
The news was greeted by the fresh produce industry.
Douglas Henderson, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, said: “We welcome the DoH initiative as part of the much broader efforts to increase consumption of fruit and veg. Clearly, people in lower socio-economic groups are most vulnerable with regard to health consequences from low consumption of fruit and veg.”
However, dairy bosses have criticised the scheme for pitting fruit against milk rather than offering both. A spokesman for the Dairy Industry Association said it was appealing to the DoH to address its concerns.
Ed Bedington