Children attending State, Church and inependent primary schools over the next five years will be given fruit, vegetables and milk with the aim of creating a healthy food culture as part of an anti-obesity strategy.
Launching this scheme at the Nadur, Gozo primary school, Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture Clint Camilleri stated that the project, which will cost just under one million euro, will cover expenses for distribution of milk which will be included with the fruit and vegetables.
“Government has tripled the fund in order to ensure that quality fruit, vegetables and milk reach our students, to promote a culture among children towards good, nutritional food and a balanced diet,” the Parliamentary Secretary explained.
The Parliamentary Secretary added that this should create awareness about the role of these products in one’s diet, and the importance of agriculture. The mascot Ninu l-Bninu, the result of a winning design by a Skolasajf student, was launched during the activity.
Meanwhile, the Directorate for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention has launched guidelines about a diet for children aged between three and twelve years.
The Director General of Public Health, Charmaine Gauci, explained that the guidelines are part of efforts to reduce child obesity. Dr Gauci added that initial studies show that 40% of Maltese children are overweight, with the biggest problem being among children in the five- to eight-year age group.
The Directorate’s Director Paula Vassallo stated that the guidelines emphasise on food portion sizes. “The hand of a boy or girl is being used to give an indication of how much food should be apportioned. As an example, a bunched fist can be used, or just the fingers for the amount of cheese, or the palm of the hand, the palm with fingers, to give a clearer indication of how much should be apportioned.”
Dr Vassallo added that besides measured and balanced portions, the children should perform physical exercise for an hour every day, which can be split up into shorter periods throughout the day.