Serving the right portions

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ROTTING fruit and a long queue for pizzas and chips tell a story of modern Sheffield.

And other cities have it far worse.

Healthy eating initiatives in schools up and down the country ARE helping and education is a key element in the fight against fat and obesity but still the problem grows.

A problem that experts say has to be tackled in the home, at school and on the street.

“It’s no good the family having portion control if it’s not in schools and they are going out to MacDonald’s with their mates,” said managing director of Sheffield’s Shine Academy Kath Sharman

“Our sports centre vending machines are full of rubbish and if kids are offered healthy food or pizza and chips there are lots of kids queuing for the rubbish and not many for the healthy option.

“We tried giving fruit away in schools as part of a Five-A-Day awareness programme and we ended up throwing a lot away because no-one wanted it and it was going bad.”

But there is hope, say campaigners. They insist every awareness campaign claims some successes, helps to turn around attitudes and start to change lives but they acknowledge it’s going to take time and a concerted effort to make real progress.

“One of the things we notice on the programmes is a general lack of awareness of portion control,” adds Kath Sharman. If an adult is snacking on a packet of crisps he has an intake of 200 calories to consider. For a child a packet of crisps still has the same 200 calories or whatever but it is a far greater proportion of his recommended daily intake which is about 1400 calories for a seven-year-old. People have to understand the importance of that.”