New interactive resource…

safefood  and the Public Health Agency (PHA) today (Wednesday 22nd June) officially launched Eat, Taste and Grow, a new interactive curriculum based education resource  to help increase awareness among primary school children of the origins of their food, local produce and the role this plays in healthy eating.

As research in 2006 showed, 18% of children aged 2-15 years in Northern Ireland were reported to be obese; and provisional data in 2008-09 showed that 22.5% of children entering Year 1 were already overweight (17%) or obese (5%).* The launch of Eat, Taste and Grow is an innovative collaboration betweensafefood and the Public Health Agency that will provide children with lifelong lessons about the food they eat, healthy eating options and the benefits of an active lifestyle.

The free teacher-led CD resource will be sent to every primary school across Northern Ireland by September 2011 and will help increase awareness among primary school children of the origins of their food and local produce, and the role this plays in healthy eating.

Speaking at the event, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Being obese as a child can store up problems for the future, leading to a reduction in life expectancy and potentially causing other health problems such as increased risk of coronary heart disease, cancer and Type 2 Diabetes.

“Currently around one in four girls and one in six boys in Primary One are overweight or obese.

“Many of our children are not as physically active as they should be, nor do they have a healthy, balanced diet.

“This new resource will help teachers in our primary schools educate children on how to choose what foods are healthier for them which hopefully they will carry with them into adulthood.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA said: “The Public Health Agency recognises the need to give every child a healthy start in life. Schools play a vital role in contributing to the development of knowledge and skills necessary to make healthier food choices and laying the foundation for good eating habits which can then be carried through into adulthood. Eat, Taste and Grow is an excellent resource that will help equip teachers to carry out this role and in turn enable children to make healthier choices.”

Mr Martin Higgins, CEO safefood said: “We know and understand the challenges faced by parents to encourage children to eat healthy foods. As obesity among children continues to rise, this interactive resource will educate children in a fun and engaging way while providing them with the information to make informed, responsible choices throughout their lives.”

The Eat, Taste and Grow resource is taught using an interactive CD-ROM for use on a whiteboard or computer and is divided into: Foundation, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Topics include ‘Where Does Our Food Come From?’, ‘Who Produces Our Food?’, ‘How Food Grows’ and ‘How Food Is Produced and Preserved’.  Each topic has accompanying teacher’s notes and includes ideas for classroom discussions, role play, games and quiz suggestions.