Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LESSONS IN HOW TO EAT FRUIT AND VEG; Minister Wants Supermarkets to Show That Healthy Food Need Not Be 'Scary'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

LESSONS IN HOW TO EAT FRUIT AND VEG; Minister Wants Supermarkets to Show That Healthy Food Need Not Be 'Scary'

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON BEATTIE

OVERWEIGHT people should be given lessons in how to eat fruit and vegetables, a health minister said today.

Caroline Flint said too many Britons are refusing to eat fresh produce because they see it as "scary food".

She wants supermarkets to provide instore demonstrations on how healthier food - even apples and bananas - should be prepared and eaten.

Her call came as the Department of Health launched a new drive to improve health and fitness levels as figures showed England is the most obese country in Europe. The campaign - Health Challenge England - is aimed at cutting the number of smokers, reducing obesity levels and lowering alcohol consumption.

Ms Flint, who was made minister for fitness this summer, said the Government had seen improvements in recent years with 1.2 million fewer smokers, increased life expectancy and reduced cancer rates.

But she said there remained a divide in England with life expectancy one year shorter for women and two years shorter for men in the North compared to the South.

Speaking exclusively to the Standard, Ms Flint admitted the Government faces an uphill challenge to persuade some people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

She cited a parent at a recent seminar held by the Department of Health who said she was intimidated by "scarier foods".

"What she was talking about was vegetables she had never seen in her life before. Here's a fruit you have never seen before. What do you do with it? Do you peel it? Do you boil it? Do you chop it?" she said.

Ms Flint said the solution was to provide cookery lessons in major stores.

"If people are calling some of the healthier foods 'scary food' because they are not sure how to prepare or cook them it doesn't matter how many times I bang out a leaflet saying eat this - it is not going to happen," she said.

Ms Flint also plans to introduce vouchers for families on low incomes which can only be exchanged for fresh produce.

She admitted one of the problems she faced was that many people did not consider themselves obese.

"We have to do it in a way not to stigmatise people. …

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