Students from Lismore’s Wyrallah Road Public School often source fresh produce from their own vegetable garden. Pictured in the garden munching on a healthy snack yesterday are (from left) Yasmin McLean, Caitlin McKenzie, Luke Finlayson, Andrew Wicks, Ashley Simpson and Madison Virtue, helping to make them some of the healthiest kids in the State.
Students from Lismore’s Wyrallah Road Public School often source fresh produce from their own vegetable garden. Pictured in the garden munching on a healthy snack yesterday are (from left) Yasmin McLean, Caitlin McKenzie, Luke Finlayson, Andrew Wicks, Ashley Simpson and Madison Virtue, helping to make them some of the healthiest kids in the State. Jacklyn Wagner

Crunch time for schoolkids

EVERY school day Yasmin McLean, of Wyrallah Road Public School in Lismore, looks forward to 10am when her school mates drop their pens and pull a piece of fresh fruit out of their bags as part of the school’s Crunch and Sip initiative.

It is one of the many ‘healthy living’ initiatives that has seen North Coast children earn the title of the State’s healthiest eaters and most physically active.

“I like fresh food because it’s really healthy and makes you feel good inside,” Year 4 student Yasmin said.

While the media is full of reports of childhood obesity, a survey of NSW childrenreleased yesterday revealed that children on the North Coast are eating more fruit and vegetables and exercising for longer periods than other kids in NSW.

The North Coast Area Health Service’s director of health promotion, Uta Dietrich, said the results demonstrated that local strategies to encourage children and parents to eat healthy foods were working.

“The North Coast has the highest level of households with income levels below $500 per week, but these families are still making good choices,” Ms Dietrich said.

“Growing vegetables in the backyard and preparing more home-cooked meals are key ways parents can make a real difference to the health of their families.

“Parents need to continue to offer children a range of vegetables every day.”

Ms Dietrich’s team recently devised a healthy eating and physical activity program called Munch and Move for early childcare workers, which is now being rolled out across the State.

Wyrallah Road principal Ralph Taylor said they started their own Crunch and Sip program about two years ago as a way to encourage students to eat healthier foods.

Sweets and the ubiquitous meat pie have been also banned from the school tuck shop, which now sources much of its vegetables from a garden cared for by Year 4 students.

Eggs are also supplied from the school’s own chook pen.

WHAT OUR KIDS EAT

97.8 per cent of 2-8 year olds eat more than two serves of fruit a day (compared with 95.8pc in rural NSW and 94.9pc in NSW) *

51.4pc of per cent of 9-15 year olds eat more than two serves of fruit a day (compared with 50.8pc in rural NSW and 50.5pc in NSW)

57.1pc of 2-8 year-olds eat five or more serves of vegetables (53.2pc, 49.5pc) *

43.6pc of 9-15 year-olds eat five or more serves of vegetables (40.7pc, 35.1pc) *

47.1pc of 5-8 year olds with adequate physical activity (42.8pc, 34.3pc) *

25.4pc of 9-15 year olds with adequate physical activity (25.1pc, 20.2pc)

31pc of 2-8 years who are overweight or obese (32.1pc, 31.3pc)

28.2pc of 9-15 years who are overweight or obese (26.9pc, 27.2pc)

* indicates best performance in the State



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