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Mascot helping schools fight increasing obesity

Harold with
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News Release October 16, 2006

Life Education’s charismatic mascot Harold is helping schools fight increasing obesity in New Zealand's children.

Harold and the mobile learning capsule have been visiting schools around Auckland teaching children about the importance of a healthy and active lifestyle.

The state of childhood obesity is climbing at a staggering rate and the government is urging schools to take a more active role since the 2002 National Children’s Nutrition Survey found that nearly 1 in 3 New Zealand children were either overweight or obese.

Principal of Glen Taylor Primary School, Lin Avery, said their school had recently joined the ‘fruit in schools’ programme which provides a piece of fruit to each child daily and is the first step in a healthy change.

A fixture in the kiwi childhood, Harold’s messages about health are working in conjunction with the national move to limit fat and sugar-laden food and drinks from school tuckshops.

Dietician and senior lecturer at AUT sports and recreation, Caryn Zinn said “there is no one cause for childhood obesity and it is vital to educate children from very early on about healthy eating.” “Life Education’s support is much appreciated as an external aid to teaching.”

The government is funding the change to healthy foods in school tuckshops and Avery has noted an increase in demand for new additions to Glen Taylor’s menu such as Vogels sandwiches and filled rolls.

Often tuckshops are commercially driven, therefore it is up to schools such as Glen Taylor to focus their attention on healthy, quality products rather than cheap, mass-produced and fatty foods that will sell in larger quantities.

“The obesity epidemic needs to be tackled on a community level and children need to be educated so they can make informed decisions about what to eat and what not to eat,” says Zinn.

Harold has teamed up with healthy role models such as Terrenzo Bozzone and Dominic Bowden to relay the Life Education message about the importance of what you put in your body.

Life Education Trust is hosting a free family fun day on Saturday 28 October from 12pm with a host of games, activities and healthy giveaways to support the cause.


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