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Health Education: Nutrition

Volume 472: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps the Government plans to take to educate parents about nutrition. (185366)

[holding answer 7 February 2008]: I have been asked to reply.

The Department launched the 5 A DAY programme to promote the health benefits of eating a variety of at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day as we believe this gives a positive message to the consumer.

The 5 A DAY logo was launched by the Department; over 640 organisations are licensed to use the 5 A DAY logo. The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Consumer Attitudes Survey, 2006 showed that 72 per cent. of people are now aware that they should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, up from 43 per cent. in 2000.

‘Top Tips for Top Mums’ is a new 5 A DAY campaign. The campaign aims to help families by sharing real tips from real mums on how they got their kids to eat more fruit and vegetables. Mums or dads can e-mail to send in their tip which may then be shared with other families via the 5 A DAY website, the media and other 5 A DAY partners.

In November 2006, the new Healthy Start scheme was implemented across the United Kingdom to provide vouchers for milk, fruit, vegetables and infant formula and free vitamin supplements to qualifying families and to back this up with information and advice through their health care professional on breastfeeding/healthy eating. They also receive an information booklet and a magazine with links to the healthy start website.

The Government will invest £75 million in an integrated marketing programme to inform, support and empower parents to make changes to their children’s diets and levels of physical activity. It will include simple universal messages for all families as well as tailored messages for at-risk families. There will be an emphasis on highlighting opportunities to take part in activities in the local area—everything from fruit-tasting sessions to ‘walking buses’ and safe play areas.

The Government will also seek to further develop the NHS Choices website so that it provides highly personalised advice on diet, activity and how to maintain a healthy weight. The Government will work with the FSA and other relevant bodies to ensure that this advice is based on the best available evidence, so that individuals can make sense of often conflicting advice from other sources. We will also explore the potential to include information on which companies meet which aspects of the codes of good practice in food and entertainment technology.