Grants promote healthy eating in kids

Western area primary schools are being offered grant funds to make drinking water and eating fruit and vegies a normal part of every student's school day.

A total of 147 primary schools in western NSW are already involved in Crunch and Sip, a program that encourages kids to establish healthy eating habits early in life. Western NSW and Far West Local Health Districts (LHD) now have grants available to help schools implement Crunch & Sip in 2013.

Western NSW and Far West LHD Health Promotion Officer, Julie Smith said schools who fully implemented Crunch and Sip could access a certification grant.

"Many schools took up this offer last year, with a number using funds to establish vegis gardens whose produce is eaten in Crunch and Sip,'' she said.

"We have a number of schools who have had Crunch and Sip in place for three years or more.

"They have done an amazing job and we are offering these schools a larger grant to continue their great work."

The 2010 Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPANS) found whilst most primary school students eat the recommended one serve of fruit per day, less than 50 per cent of students eat enough vegetables. Soft drinks, cordials and sports drinks are consumed on a daily basis by 10 to 20 per cent of students, and up to one third of younger students consume a cup of juice daily.

Rates of overweight and obese students have stabilised at 22.8 per cent.

"It is very important children eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables daily as they contain minerals, vitamins and fibre essential for good health,'' Ms Smith said.

"We encourage children to choose water as a drink as it quenches their thirst and doesn't come with the sugar and energy found in beverages such as soft drinks and sports drinks.

"It's great to see programs like Crunch and Sip making a difference to childhood overweight and obesity rates but these remain unacceptably high.

"Research tells us excess weight gain is a risk factor for a number for chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Crunch and Sip grants in 2012 were very popular and I expect a similar response this year."

For more information about Crunch and Sip please contact Julie Smith on (02) 6841 5588.

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