Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nuts about Our Fruit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nuts about Our Fruit

Article excerpt

An apple a day is coming the way of thousands of North-East schoolchildren in a bid to improve the diet of youngsters.

After trials in selected areas across the country, every four-to-six-year-old attending schools in the region will get a free piece of fruit every day from next spring.

The Lottery-funded scheme was first piloted at inner-city schools in London in 2001, followed by a second phase in parts of the North-West, Midlands and other areas of London last year.

Once the North-East scheme has been up and running for a year, the Government will look to see if any improvements to childrens' diets have been noticed before deciding if it will be rolled out across the country.

Labour MP Joyce Quin has been campaigned for the North-East to be included in any extension to the programme since it was first mooted.

The Gateshead East and Washington West MP said: "I am delighted that the North-East will benefit from this scheme.

"I have seen first hand in London the difference it makes. The children got used to fruit and began enjoying to eat fruit. That is an excellent step forward for youngsters in leading healthier lives in the future.

"It is believed eating fruit could help to prevent various diseases - possibly reducing the risk of cancer death by a third - but a recent survey showed that fruit is often ignored in many children's diets.

The announcement that the North-East was to be the next region to try out the plan was made in a parliamentary answer by public health minister Melanie Johnson.

She said: "The next region to join in will be the North-East. The pilots, which have been supported by pounds 42m from the New Opportunities Fund, will be evaluated to establish the impact on children's diets and the practicalities of the scheme, before rolling out nationally."

A study by Cancer Research in 2001 revealed as many as 200,000 children in England and Wales had not eaten any fruit or vegetables for the previous seven days. …

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