Parents will be delighted to hear that supermarket giant Tesco will offer children free fruit while the grown ups are shopping in store in an attempt to get kids to eat more healthily.
The initiative, which is being launched in over 800 Tesco stores across the UK, is aimed at creating healthy eating habits among kids that will stay with them as they grow up, and to make it easier for children to get the fruit and vegetables they need.
‘To promote healthy eating habits among children and discourage them from buying unhealthy snacks. Tesco has decided to hand out fruits to children, while parents shop.’
The Government recommends that children, like adults, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. But research has shown that only 10% of boys and 7% of girls between the ages of 11 and 18 years meet this recommendation. On average children in England eat only about three portions, with many eating fewer.
Participating stores will have a selection of fruits available including apples, soft citrus and bananas for parents to take to give to their children.
The move comes after Maria Simpson, a Tesco checkout colleague from a store in Lincolnshire, suggested giving free fruit to parents for their children to eat during shopping trips as an alternative to sweets. The idea was taken up by the store and was so well received by customers that Tesco decided to trial the initiative in Scotland to see how it might work on a bigger scale.
Matt Davies, Tesco CEO for UK and ROI said, "We're Britain's biggest greengrocer, so we want to make it easier for parents to get their children eating more healthily. As a dad, I know it can be tricky getting children to eat their fruit and vegetables, so we're hoping this initiative will help create healthy eating habits that will stay with children as they grow up."
The initiative has been welcomed by health experts and charities.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said "It's great to hear about Tesco's new 'Free Fruit for Kids' initiative. It's a positive step towards improving children's health throughout the UK and helps parents ensure their children get their five portions of fruit and vegetables every day." He added,"This initiative complements the work we're doing with Tesco and Diabetes UK through our National Charity Partnership. Everyone should aim for a balanced diet and it's really positive to see Tesco giving families a helping hand again."
A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, the UK's single biggest killer. It also prevents weight gain, reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Unhealthy diets and being overweight can lead to serious health conditions which is largely preventable by eating well and getting active.
Helen Dickens, Diabetes UK Interim Director of Prevention of Type 2 diabetes, said "Eating fresh fruit is an important part of a healthy diet, and this exciting new initiative from Tesco will make it even easier for parents and children across the country to swap less healthy snacks for one of their five a day."
This is not the first step Tesco has taken in promoting healthy eating after becoming the first major retailer to take sweets and chocolates away from checkouts in all stores in 2014. The following year, the store also announced they would be making all children's lunchbox-sized soft drinks with no added sugar, further adding to the four-and-a-half billion calories and 1,400 tons of sugar it has already cut from its soft drinks range.