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Kathy Hammond


5 A DAY message hits home

Survey claims 5 A DAY is working among schoolchildren - but finds that many believe cheese comes from plants

5 A DAY message hits home
Schoolchildren take part in Healthy Eating Week

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Almost all schoolchildren in the UK now know they should be eating 5 A 5 A DAY, new research has shown.

To mark the start of Healthy Eating Week, a survey of 27,500 children in primary and secondary schools was carried out by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) and supported by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

The study, which claims to be the largest of its kind, found that 77 per cent of primary schoolchildren now know they should eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and that an impressive 88 per cent of secondary schoolchildren were aware of the same message. However, this does not yet translate into consumption, with 67 per cent of primary schoolchildren and 81 per cent of secondary school pupils currently eating four or fewer portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

The BNF-backed Healthy Eating Week, which runs from 3-7 June, has more than 3,000 schools participating and 1.2 million pupils will have lessons on healthy eating, cooking and where their food comes from.

Roy Ballam, education programme manager at the BNF, said: “Schools throughout the UK require a national framework and guidance for food and nutrition education to support the learning needs of children and young people, especially at a time when levels of childhood obesity are soaring. 

"Through Healthy Eating Week, we hope to start the process of re-engaging children with the origins of food, nutrition and cooking, so that they grow up with a fuller understanding of how food reaches them and what a healthy diet and lifestyle consists of.”

Furthermore, the survey also showed a worrying disconnect when it comes to children's knowledge of where food comes from. Astonishingly, 29 per cent of primary schoolchildren believe that cheese comes from plants, while 10 per cent of secondary-aged children think tomatoes grow under the ground.

Ballam concluded: “Through this survey one in five (21 per cent) primary schoolchildren and 18 per cent of secondary school pupils told us that they have never visited a farm. This may go part way to explaining why over a third (34 per cent) of five to eight year olds and 17 per cent of eight to 11 year olds believe that pasta comes from animals.”

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