09/07/2008

Free Fruit For Fattened Folk

A proposal by the European Commission could provide free fruit and vegetables for schoolchildren.

The school fruit scheme is a union wide scheme to provide up to €90 million to purchase and distribute fruit and vegetables to children across the European Union.

The proposal aims to encourage good eating habits in young people, which studies show tend to be carried on into later life.

Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development said: "This proposal shows we're serious about taking concrete steps to fight obesity.

"Giving kids good habits at an early age is crucial as they will carry these into later life. Too many of our children eat far too little fruit and vegetables and often don't appreciate how delicious they are. You only have to walk down any high street in Europe to see the extent of the problems we face with overweight kids. Let's do something about it."

Experts almost universally agree that a healthy diet can play an integral role in reducing obesity rates, and cutting the risk of serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes in later life.

Cardiovascular disease is one of Irelands biggest killers and is commonly attributed to the Irish diet.

The World Health Organisation recommends a daily net intake of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per person. The majority of Europeans fail to meet this target and the downward trend is particularly evident among the young.

An estimated 22m children in the EU are overweight. More than 5m of these are obese and this figure is expected to rise by 400,000 every year.

(DW)


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