£119 million spent on Children's Healthy Eating - Fails

Hey kids! How about some healthy free fruit? No thanks, we'll stick with crisps | Health | SocietyGuardian.co.uk

Over £100 million spent on trying to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables has been blasted as a failure by a new report. Supporters claim that whilst it failed to change attitudes children did eat more fruit and vegetables during the trials.

Howver it seems the authorities will have to be as clever as the advertisers of sweets and salty snacks if they ever want to change the culture of children to make healthy food cool. In 2006 (year ending May), the UK snack foods market, was worth £2.08bn at retail selling prices (rsp), a rise of 0.4% on the same period in 2005. Walkers have over 60% of the market and an annual advertising spend to fight for their number one position.

The company that owns Walkers Pepsico frequently spends in the region of £5 billion pounds a year on advertising it's products to children.

The fruit and veg snack scheme was launched at an initial cost of £42m and has since been given a further £77m by the Department of Health. Every child aged four to six was to receive a piece of fruit or vegetable every day at school. It was, says the evaluation study published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, "the largest scale intervention in English children's diet since the introduction of free school milk in 1946".

The scale of the initiative was immense; 44m pieces of fruit or veg served up every year to 2 million children in 18,000 schools across the country. The point of the plan was laudable; to make children healthier, and give them a real appetite for fresh food.
But there is one great problem with the scheme that was launched with such fanfare three years ago; children just won't eat their greens.

That, at least, is one conclusion to be drawn from a study published today which shows that the government's intervention has made no difference to children's nutrition. One critic, who advised the Department of Health that it was unlikely to work, said that making fruit and veg available at school breaktime was no use in a culture in which healthy food was thought to be uncool.