Carmel Elliott of East Lismore with her daughter Matilda, 5, eating her favourite snack of fruit and veggies.
Carmel Elliott of East Lismore with her daughter Matilda, 5, eating her favourite snack of fruit and veggies. David Nielsen

Matilda's a munch-kid

FIVE-YEAR-OLD Matilda Elliott is happy eating raw cauliflower and says her favourite snack is the humble carrot.

It might be the East Lismore youngster just likes her vegies, or it might be that her pre-school has been involved in the Tootie Fruity Vegie program, which encourages healthy eating and physical activity for children three to five years old.

The program was developed by the North Coast Area Health Service and started in six local preschools in 2006: Clunes, Richmond Hill, Yamba, Dunoon, Lismore Community preschool and the Parish preschool in Lismore.

It will now be re-branded as Munch and Move and rolled out to 800 preschools across NSW.

Health service acting health promotion director Jillian Adams described the announcement as "a huge vote of confidence in the skills of the North Coast health promotion team".

Matilda's mum, Carmel Elliott, was also full of praise for the program, saying it helped parents get their kids to eat more fruit and vegetables.

“With life being so hectic for most parents it can be easy to turn to pre-packaged foods that kids say they like and fill a space in the lunchbox,” Mrs Elliott said.

“The Tootie Fruity program offered great ideas for healthy alternatives that were quick and easy to prepare and which children really enjoyed.”

Some of the tips included making a happy face on the plate out of healthy foods, or making fruit kebabs on a stick. The also suggested grating vegetables and putting them in patties to make them more tempting.

Mrs Elliott said the program also ran workshops in developing gross motor skills that were fun for the kids and gave them self-confidence.

Statistics indicate one-in-five children are overweight or obese by the time they reach kindergarten.

“With childhood obesity becoming a real issue, it is good to have a program such as Tootie Fruity that is helping us to turn it all around for the children and parents,” she said.

“It's simple changes that can make all the difference.”



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