The Australian Health Survey 2011-12 shows that 12% of Tasmanian children aged between 5 and 17 years are eating less than one serve of fruit per day (children should be consuming between 1 and 2 serves depending on age), and 23.7% are eating less than two serves of vegetables per day (children should be consuming between 2 and 5 serves depending on age). We have also seen an increase in the proportion of Tasmanian children who are overweight or obese from 18.6% (2007-08) to 28.8% (2011-12). These are alarming statistics regarding the health of our future generations, and makes nutrition promotion and obesity prevention a national health priority.
Childhood obesity is not only a significant risk factor for early onset of chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but can also limit optimal development and increase the risk of psychological and social problems. Children who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of social isolation, discrimination, bullying and low self-esteem. Eat Well Tasmania is committed to encouraging, supporting and promoting positive healthy eating to those who work with and have a direct influence on children.
A standard serve is about 150g (350kJ) or:
Or only occasionally:
125ml (1/2 cup) fruit juice (no added sugar)
A standard serve is about 75g (100–350kJ) or:
As with other dietary needs, the daily amount of fruit and vegetables serves needed will change with age, as children grow.
In reality, the amount a child will eat at one time will depend on age, appetite and activity levels. One serve can include a combination of fruit or vegetables, and may be eaten in several smaller portions during the day. For example, a four year old may eat half an apple and half a banana during the day, making one serve of fruit.
For more information about the recommended number of serves for children, adolescents and toddlers, please click here.
While getting enough fruit and vegetable serves into children each day is one of the most important things we can do for our children's health, it is not always easy! Children take time to develop a taste for fruit and vegetables and like most things in life, tastes change over time. It is important to encourage children to eat the recommended serves of fruit and vegetables from infancy into adolescence.
Eat Well Tasmania's Smile Strategy for encouraging vegetable intake in children:
S – Sneak fruits and vegies into favourite foods (mix, mash, grate).
M – Mix it up and make it fun! Provide a variety of fruits and vegetables in positive and fun way.
I – Introduce foods to kids while young! Be wise, positive, persistent and patient; never force
L – Lead! Be a positive role model in the growing, buying, cooking and eating of vegetables.
E – Environment: create healthy environments and limit unhealthy alternatives. Don't make it hard for yourself!
For ideas and information about nutrition and healthy eating for children click on the links below:
The Physical Activity & Community Nutrition Unit (Department of Health and Human Services) provides a wealth of information and resources to make healthy eating fun and informative for children.
Visit our Resources page for more tips on healthy eating.