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Five-a-day message gets an added twist at Whitehouse Primary School

23 January 2017

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Public Health Nutritionist, Dr Janice McConnell recently teamed up with Nutritional Therapist, Jane McClenaghan to deliver an innovative workshop to P3 and P4 pupils at Whitehouse Primary School. The workshop, which was part of the school’s annual health and wellbeing week, was part-funded by the Northern Trust’s Northern Obesity Partnership (NOP) and forms part of a wider Council-driven programme designed to bring about long-term change in eating habits among primary school children.

During the workshop, the children participated in both educational and interactive food skills sessions, promoting the Eatwell Guide for healthy eating, with particular emphasis on fruit and vegetables.  With recent statistics from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) indicating that only 8% of children are currently eating 5-a-day, the workshop encouraged pupils to both increase their current intake of vegetables and fruit, and ‘eat a rainbow’ of colours.  The pupils were also encouraged to replace sugary snacks and drinks with fruit and vegetables, as children are currently consuming 2-3 times the recommended maximum of 24g or 6 sugar cubes per day.

Following the workshop, Dr McConnell commented: “Dietary change requires an enabling environment, knowledge, skills, and motivation.  The identification and full engagement with key partners who are able to support these conditions is especially important for longer-term change. This Council initiative is a case example of how professionals from local government, the Trust, education and private sector pathways can synergistically join up their resources for the common goal of improving dietary habits and related health outcomes”. 

Jane McClenaghan added: “Developing food skills is a cornerstone of my business.  Working in partnership with the Council and complementing the necessary nutrition knowledge with the practical know-how and related sensory experiences through tasting activities means we can provide the full package in one fun interactive session and set the foundations for sustainable change”.

Teachers were provided with a range of support materials and activities to reinforce the learning from the workshop into the curriculum and support the ongoing implementation of the school’s packed lunch policy and school nutrition standards.

Ms Claire McIntosh from Whitehouse Primary School commented: “The teachers here are fully committed to ensuring that pupils have access to healthier choices within the school and are equipped to develop lifelong dietary habits for their health and wellbeing. We are therefore very excited to work with the Council to help improve children’s food choices”.

BACK ROW L-R: Ms Claire McIntosh, P3 teacher; Jane McClenaghan, Director Vital Nutrition; Dr Janice McConnell, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
FRONT ROW: P4 pupils from Whitehouse Primary School who participated in the Healthy Eating Workshop