Press Release

Minister Wallace reminds pupils and parents of the opportunity the new school year presents to make a healthy start

Ms Mary Wallace, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Health Promotion and Food Safety, today (4th September 2008) wished pupils and parents a safe and healthy year ahead as the new school year begins. She said that the new school year presented them with an opportunity to make a fresh and healthy start. She reminded them that the foundations for healthy living are established in childhood and she asked that parents try to ensure that their children have a balanced diet. The Minister also asked schools and parents’ associations to work together on healthy lunch policies and commended the many schools who continue to make a big difference in this area both at primary and post primary levels.

Earlier this year the Minister launched the “Little Steps go a Long Way” campaign, an all island initiative by the Health Service Executive, Safefood and the Health Promotion Agency in Northern Ireland. The aim of this campaign is to support parents and guardians as positive role models for their children in relation to healthy eating and physical activity.

“Parents”the Minister said“are the primary role models for their children. As with other aspects of living, if parents eat healthy and live healthy lifestyles, research has shown that their children will grow up with the same good habits. Small changes to physical activity and food habits have a big impact on health.”

The Minister said that the new school year provides an obvious opportunity to ensure that children’s lunch boxes contain a healthy and nutritional balance of foods and recommended that parents use the Food Pyramid as a guide when planning school lunches and the Health Service Executive leaflet ‘Healthy Lunch Box to Grow, Learn and Play’. The Department of Health and Children in liaison with the Department of Education and Science have been involved in developing healthy eating guidelines for schools. Guidelines for pre-schools and primary schools have already been developed. Post primary school guidelines will be launched in the coming weeks.