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Healthy Food Message Goes 3-D

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Captial Coast DHB.jpg
Captial Coast DHB.jpg

17 SEPTEMBER 2008 - Children in the Capital & Coast DHB district will soon be able to get a hands-on education in just how much fat and sugar is hidden in a lot of the food they eat.

In a first-of-its-kind move, Capital & Coast DHB is giving all local schools and early childhood education services a set of nutritional posters which graphically demonstrate the nutritional differences between different types of food - and even between the same types of food prepared different ways.

Robyn Blue, the HEHA Programme Manager for C&CDHB, says the posters - which have detachable bags of sugar and fat attached to a picture of each food - are a real eye-opener for kids, and for adults too. "I know I'll never be able to look at a thickshake the same way again," Robyn said.

The 3-D poster promotion is part of a national health strategy to promote nutrition in the school environment. The "Healthy Eating - Healthy Action: Oranga Kai - Oranga Pumau" (HEHA) strategy is the Ministry of Health's strategic approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and achieving a healthy weight for all New Zealanders. An important factor influencing this strategy has been the rising rate of obesity in New Zealand children in the last 30 years.

"Getting the message across to schools is an important part of our healthy eating strategy, and we've employed a teacher, Renata Balfour, to lead the school HEHA team," Robyn Blue said.

"In the last year a fund has been established for schools with initiatives that will promote nutrition. A range of projects have been funded by this Nutrition Fund across the district - including the installation of water fountains, funds to develop gardens, and funding to purchase kitchen equipment to assist in the preparation of healthier food."

The 3-D posters which the DHB has chosen for this new promotion were created by Te Hotu Manawa Maori - an independent organisation under the umbrella of the National Heart Foundation. There are four different posters in each set - each of which highlights the fat and sugar content of many commonly used food items.

Renata Balfour, head of the DHB's schools HEHA team, hopes the visual and tactile message of the posters will spur teachers on to being innovative in getting messages to students.

"For example, younger students could practice measuring out quantities of sugar and older students could use the posters to better understand nutrition panels on packages."

"The posters could also be displayed in the school library or reception area, or on parent interview days."

"A lot of people are very surprised at the amount of fat and sugar in certain foods. For example, the images show clearly how a cottage pie is much healthier than a meat pie with pastry. And the difference between tinned fruit with syrup, as opposed to tinned fruit in juice or fresh fruit, will be a sugar-soaked surprise for the kids and a lot of grownups.

"Many people find the amount of sugar in a thick shake is the most shocking of all. The sugar's almost bursting out of the bag".

The posters are supplied to schools and education centres in large art folders, which allow them to be stored flat to keep them in good shape for use in future years.

The posters have previously been available from Te Hotu Manawa Maori in an unassembled form which requires purchasers to put the fat and sugar on the posters yourselves. The DHB wanted to ensure the resource was ready to use - so literally hundreds of hours have gone into getting the posters ready for delivery.

"It's been an incredibly labour-intensive project," Robyn Blue says. "But it's worth it to give kids such a hands-on learning tool."

"The feedback we've already been getting from schools and from others who have seen the posters has been extremely enthusiastic - people find them fascinating. We have seen first hand how much of a talking point these posters are, and we're confident this resource will make a difference," Robyn Blue said.

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