Funds pledged for Food Dudes programme

The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers (WCF) has pledged to put £75,000 over the next three years into the Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme to help encourage youngsters in England to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Its pledge has made been alongside another pledge from Wolverhamptom City Primary Care Trust - which is putting in £500,000 to help roll out the scheme to primary schools in the city.

Director of public health for Wolverhampton Dr Adrian Phillips said: "We are delighted to support this programme because it means that over the three years a total of 20,000 primary school children in Wolverhampton will have a real chance to become even healthier and eat a better and more enjoyable diet. Schools in the city have expressed a keen interest in this programme as it links to all our other work around healthy eating and physical activity. They are looking forward to reaping the rewards of the Food Dudes programme."

The programme, aimed at four- to 11-year-olds, uses cartoon "superheroes" to help youngsters develop a liking for fresh produce.

It works by getting teachers to show pupils a series of six videos featuring young superheroes who make eating fruit and vegetables look "cool".

Children are urged to be like the heroic Food Dudes - who eat fresh produce to save the "life force" from the "junk punks" - who are taking away the energy of the world by depriving it of healthy food (Grower, 26 June).

So far the programme - developed by the Food & Activity Research Unit, part of the School of Psychology at Bangor University Gwynedd - has only been successfully integrated into the education system in Ireland, where the government has made it a national scheme to all primary schools in the country.

It is now being rolled out in England thanks to the newly formed Food Dudes in England Collaborative Group - which is being led and financially backed by the HDC and the School Food Trust. The NFU is also a member.

Professor of paediatric respiratory medicine at King's College Hospital London and vice-chairman of the WCF awards council Professor John Price said: "Obesity and related illnesses are at unprecedented levels and by supporting the Food Dudes programme we will encourage children to choose fruit and vegetables over less healthy foods.

"If we can tackle obesity in children this will have an effect on the health of future generations. Studies have shown that children following the Food Dudes programme increased their fruit and vegetable consumption from 100 to 200 per cent on average."


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