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    Home arrow 5 A Day arrow Prevention - A Government Priority

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he NHS Plan, the NHS Cancer Plan and the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease , all published in 2000, have set out a framework for a strong focus on prevention and tackling health inequalities. The government’s priority is to reduce early deaths from cancer and coronary heart disease. Recognising that good health depends upon social, environmental and economic factors such as poverty, unemployment, education and housing, the NHS will work with other partners to prevent ill health. This will help tackle health inequalities, as the burden of these diseases falls heavily on the most disadvantaged.

ut the government’s strategy also concentrates on tackling the major risk factors for these chronic diseases, such as smoking and nutrition. Recognising the links between diet and later disease, the NHS Plan highlights diet and nutrition as a key area for action.


It is not the role of government to tell people what to eat – but to ensure that people have information and proper access to healthy food wherever they live. So, as part of it's commitment to preventing disease and reducing health inequalities, the government is developing a national five-a-day programme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and help make a healthy diet a real choice for everyone. The government will work with producers, retailers and other key stakeholders, to increase provision and access to fruit and vegetables – particularly in deprived communities, schools and hospitals.


The National School Fruit Scheme
As part of this programme, five local Five-a-day pilot initiatives, focusing on deprived communities, were set up in 2000 in Airedale and Craven, County Durham , Hastings , Sandwell and Somerset including a range of activities – from breakfast clubs, tasting and cooking sessions, competitions in schools and community allotments. Evaluation has shown that the initiatives had a positive impact on awareness of, access to and intake of fruit and vegetables. Lessons learnt have informed the setting up of more local initiatives, including 66 Primary Care Trust led projects to be funded by the New Opportunities Fund.


The National School Fruit Scheme, which will be fully operational from 2004, is being established to increase provision in schools. It will entitle school children aged four to six to a free piece of fruit each school day.

The National School Fruit Scheme complements the National Healthy School Standard, which encourages schools to consider diet and nutrition issues in all aspects of school life. This is part of the Healthy Schools Programme, led jointly by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health. Its overall aim is to help schools become healthier through the development and improvement of local schools programmes.


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