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National Nutrition Week to promote healthy eating in schools

Four partners have joined forces and embarked on a project to create awareness around the Department of Health’s and the Department of Education’s National Nutrition and Obesity Week’s theme of Healthy Eating for Children.

From 9th – 19th October 2009, the 5-a-Day for Better Health Trust, Pick n Pay, ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) and the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA (3-a-Day) will be educating principals, educators, children in Grades 3 – 6, parents and tuckshop co-ordinators on healthy eating for children.

“Children are the foundation of our nation, which means their nutritional education has to be a priority” says Rene Smalberger ADSA President, “and we need to ensure that they are not only fed the right foods but the right information about nutrition”. Twenty three schools from all nine provinces have been selected to take part in the various activities which will reinforce the three key National Nutrition Week messages: enjoy a variety of foods; drink lots of clean, safe water; and be active. 

During National Nutrition Week, the partnering organisations will reach some 10 000 Grade 3 to Grade 6 learners from the selected schools, with an educational leaflet to take home to their parents reinforcing the healthy eating and activity messages and their importance. Parents and learners will be actively involved by being encouraged to buy a variety of foods including vegetables and fruit, plus dairy products and to bring the till slips to school during Nutrition Week. The learners will then be rewarded with a lunch box containing a variety of nutritious foods.

Principals and educators will also be provided with information packs. In addition principals, educators, tuck shop co-ordinators and vendors serving the school will be invited to visit their nearest Pick n Pay Hyper or Supermarket for a shopping tour with a registered dietitian. During the tour, they will be informed about the importance of enjoying a variety of foods and be provided with recommendations and practical ideas and tips for healthy food choices for children.

“Pick n Pay is delighted to be a partner in this National Nutrition Week project, as we recognise how important it is for educators and tuck shop co-ordinators to offer children healthy options and support the healthy eating message”, says Teresa Del Fabbro, Pick n Pay’s dietitian.

“Children and parents need to know there’s no one perfect food and all foods can fit into a healthy eating plan that includes at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruit as well as three servings of dairy products daily and ensures that children are also active and get some exercise every day” says Jane Badham, CEO of the 5-a-Day for Better Health TRUST.

Just as wise food choices are important so too is a child’s choice of beverages. Water is vital for optimal well being and during National Nutrition Week, children will also be encouraged to drink 6 – 8 glasses of clean, safe water each day.

With statistics showing that 25% of South African children are watching television or playing computer games for three hours or more daily, the message for children to be active is of vital importance to the future health of our children. The guideline is that children need to be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days, whether this is walking, playing ball, dancing, cycling or playing outdoors.

“The various partners involved with this project are particularly pleased that the Department of Health has chosen this theme for National Nutrition Week 2009, as healthy eating and being active are critical to the improved health of our children – who are after all our future,” concludes Prof Hettie Schonfeldt of the Consumer Education Project of Milk SA.


   * More than 50% of South African children under 9 years are deficient in Vitamin A
   * One out of 10 children are iron deficient
   * One out of 10 children under 9 years is overweight and 4% are obese
   * The SA Youth Risk Behaviour Survey of 2002 found 37,5% of  South African youth don’t participate in physical activity and that 25% watch TV for three hours or more per day.

www.5aday.co.za; www.adsa.org.za; www.dairy.co.za; www.picknpay.co.za

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