In June 2000, Sustain secured a grant of £650,000 from the National Lotteries Charities Board to be spread over three years, for 'a project to promote fruit and vegetables consumption amongst 7-11 year olds, with a focus on low income families'.
In August 2000 two project officers began to co-ordinate the project, build coalitions and review existing work. The project officers drew on the expertise and advice of a national working party chaired by Joe Harvey of the Health Education Trust. Members of the working party represent key interest groups from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Between September 2001 and July 2002 the project was tested in Primary schools in Lambeth, Leeds and Plymouth. Independant evaluation was carried out by the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group and showed the project be successful (for further details see: evaluation).
Sustain then worked with partners across the country, implementing Grab 5! in other areas.
Why more fruit and veg?
It is now well documented that eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day can help protect against coronary heart disease and some cancers. People in the UK, however, consume less fruit and vegetables than consumers in many other EU countries, with average intakes of barely 3 portions a day. Back in 1994, the COMA report on Nutritional Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease recommended a 50% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. Current Government public health policy sets targets for coronary heart disease and cancers and has incorporated this recommendation as a way of reaching these targets. Grab 5! focuses on tackling the main obstacles to increased consumption, namely the acceptability, accessibility and affordability of fruit and vegetables.
Why 7-11 year olds?
- One in 5 children eat no fruit in a week
- Eating habits are formed in childhood and there is therefore potential to break unhealthy habits and form healthy ones for years to come.
- Children are keen to learn and schools provide an ideal environment to carry out the work.
- By influencing children's eating habits, the diets of whole families can be affected.
Why a focus on low-income groups?
Children from poorer families have the lowest consumption of all of fruit and vegetable. The higher rates of morbidity and mortality from all diseases (including coronary heart disease and cancer) amongst poor people is partly due to such dietary differences. The potential health gains from eating more fruit and vegetables are therefore the highest. Working with low-income groups is in line with government policy to reduce health inequalities.
Sustain's work on children's food
All Grab 5! materials are still available online to download free of charge (follow the Right to the Core website link at the bottom of the menu). Sustain's work to improve the quality of children's food and s food education also continues under the auspices of the Children's Food Campaign (follow the link below).