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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 06:57 GMT
'Food Dudes' hungry for support
The Food Dudes
The Food Dudes could help prevent child obesity, say the developers
Developers of a children's healthy eating scheme say they are frustrated it has not had more government backing.

Ireland will roll out the "Food Dudes" in all its primary schools, showing it is cool to eat fruit and vegetables.

But Prof Fergus Lowe of the University of Wales, Bangor, said it was frustrating that the programme was not being used more widely in the UK.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it had had a trial, but other healthy eating schemes were in place.

The programme, developed at the university's School of Psychology, features video characters which gain the "life force" by eating foods such as carrots, broccoli and raspberries, and overcome the junk food foes, known as the Junk Punks.

Ireland led the way with the smoking ban, however, and hopefully this is a case of them leading the way again
Prof Fergus Lowe

The Irish government has decided to bring in the Food Dudes in every primary school in the country over the next seven years.

"We are delighted the Irish government have had the foresight to adopt the programme," said Prof Lowe.

"We believe this programme has a vital role to play in resolving the growing obesity problem facing many industrialised nations."

But Prof Lowe said he had been surprised that the programme was not being taken up more widely.

"I have been very surprised that having found what is clearly a solution (to child obesity), I thought it would have been straightforward to move it forward, but that is proving more challenging than anticipated.

Good habits

"Ireland led the way with the smoking ban, however, and hopefully this is a case of them leading the way again, and other places will follow," he added.

In Ireland the programme has been welcomed by Fresh Produce Ireland, which sees it as both a way to nurture good eating habits and also promote Irish produce.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said it was important to encourage more young people to eat a healthy balanced diet.

"Local authorities and schools are already offering healthier school food and adopting effective approaches to encourage pupils to make healthier choices." "Food Dudes is one way of achieving this and we are aware that pilots have been run in Wales.

"However, as part of our whole school approach we have invested in a wide range of alternative initiatives to improve nutrition in our schools including our free breakfast scheme, piloting of healthy vending machines, fruit tuck shops and the Welsh network of healthy school schemes," said the spokesman.




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