Page last updated at 05:00 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 06:00 UK

Shops get fruit and veg sale help

People are still not eating enough fruit and vegetables

Corner shops in deprived areas of England are to be given money to help boost sales of fruit and vegetables.

The Department of Health scheme comes after a similar project has helped increase sales in Scotland.

Some 200,000 will be provided in the first year to pilot it in the North East before being expanded nationally.

The money is expected to be used to help buy new shelving, chiller cabinets and promotional material to get people eating more healthily.

It comes as the government struggles to get the population eating the recommended five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day.

While consumption has been gradually increasing, just a fifth of children and a third of adults consume the right amount.

Working together we can bring not only the access, but also the messages about healthy choices to the consumers that need it most
James Lowman, of the Association of Convenience Stores

Funding has been used for the past four years to help shops in Scotland to promote fruit and vegetables.

So far 500 stores have signed up and sales are reported to have been boosted by up to 500%.

Shops will still be able to sell sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks, but ministers hope by making healthy food more visible it will have an impact on sales.

Health minister Ivan Lewis said: "We know that families in some communities still use the corner shop on a daily basis for their food and other household goods.

"It is therefore essential we take healthy eating options to these stores and reach those families who are at the greatest risk of poor health due to a poor diet."

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, added: "Working together we can bring not only the access, but also the messages about healthy choices to the consumers that need it most."

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: "We fully support the drive to encourage healthy eating through improving access to fruit and veg.

"But just providing healthy food options isn't enough to change the way people eat. To be successful this initiative needs to be joined up with other local programmes which can educate and empower people to make healthy choices.

"Obesity is a complex problem. It will take long term, sustained investment to change the habits of the next generation."

The scheme is due to start in the autumn.

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