By 2030, one in four Chinese children over the age of seven are forecast to be overweight or obese.
The new ‘Healthy Eating, Happy Learning’ programme sees children in two schools in the Pudong district of Shanghai benefit from healthier lunches, nutrition and health education, and increased physical activity.
As part of the programme, the schools’ external lunchbox suppliers are being supported to adapt traditional Chinese dishes, for instance to lower oil and to add vegetables. Parents and teachers are also learning about the importance of diet, nutrition and maintaining an active lifestyle.
Around 1,000 students aged between six and nine are taking part in the two-year programme. The health of the children is being monitored regularly and progress is being compared with children at another school in Shanghai which operates without a comprehensive health programme.
Tate & Lyle’s food scientists and nutritionists are helping deliver classes and activities alongside the Shanghai Nutrition Society’s expert team and the schools’ teachers. Students and parents will also have the opportunity to visit Tate & Lyle’s food kitchen in Shanghai.
The methodology and results of the programme will be assessed with a view to determining a model that could potentially be used in the future to improve the lives of more children, schools and families within China.
Harry Boot, senior vice-president & general manager of Speciality Food Ingredients Asia Pacific at Tate & Lyle, said: “Obesity is a highly complex challenge affecting individuals, families and communities across the world. We work with both large and small food manufacturers to help them lower sugar, fat and calories in food and drink, and we also work in local communities to promote healthier, balanced lifestyles.
"Through our partnership with the Shanghai Nutrition Society our aim is not only to improve the health of children at schools in Shanghai, but also to build key nutritional knowledge and data which can be used in the future to improve lives for generations.”
Guo Hong Wei, general director at the Shanghai Nutrition Society, said: “Strengthening cooperation with food companies is one important measure in implementing a national nutrition plan, lowering the prevalence of obesity, and controlling chronic diseases. Through this project we will strengthen the monitoring and assessment of overweight and obese statuses in students, as well as analyse influencing factors, such as family, school and society. These activities are targeted, comprehensive intervention measures that have been proven to be effective by previous scientific studies and practices.”