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More education and fruit to help children's health

An expert has recommended that schools improve food education and give out more free fruit to children at a younger age
School should take steps like improving food education and extending free fruit breaks to improve the overall health of children, according to an expert.

Fruit breaks should be given to junior children as well as infants and diet education should be part of the national curriculum from an early age, the head of nutrition and dietetic services at Mayday University Hospital, Justine Sharpe, suggested.

A Department of Health report stated that between 1995 and 2003, the prevalence of obesity in children aged two to ten increased from 9.9 per cent to 13.7 per cent.

But, despite this increase, Ms Sharpe believes the drive should not just concentrate on weight issues.

"The focus should be on achieving health, self-esteem and good grades through good diet," she said.

"Focusing on weight will only highlight the children that are overweight and obese and thereby lower self-esteem."

The report also found that nearly 20 per cent of children whose parents are overweight will be obese themselves, compared with 6.7 per cent of children where neither parent was overweight.

Ms Sharpe said there should be encouragement for parents to limit the amount of time children spend playing computer games and watching television to less than two hours a day, unless it is active like a Nintendo Wii sports game or a dance mat.

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