Healthy choices in our shops
A convenience store scheme to help people make healthier choices about the food they buy has been praised by the health secretary on a visit to Norfolk.
Andrew Lansley visited the Spar store in St Augustine's Gate, Norwich, to see how the shop has been altered as part of the Change4Life Convenience Store campaign.
The campaign is being rolled out in 11 stores across the East of England and aims to make it easier for people in all parts of the community to get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables.
Mr Lansley said it was time for the government to stop telling people to be healthy and to start helping them to actually make positive lifestyle changes.
He said: 'Promoting the five-a-day message is a good thing, but we also need to make it easier for people to actually buy fruit and vegetables locally. That is why this Change4Life Convenience Store campaign is such a great idea – simple but highly effective.
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'Similar stores in the North East, where the scheme was first launched, have seen, on average, an increase of 40pc in sales of fresh fruit and vegetables.
'This roll-out of the campaign in Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire is excellent news for local communities – a boost to customers' health as well as proving beneficial for shopkeepers' profits.'
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During his visit, Mr Lansley met children from the Magdalen Gates Primary School in Bull Close Road.
The children demonstrated how they make fruit smoothies with the use of a 'smoothie bike' which combines physical activity with healthy eating.
All the shops are selling a wider range of fruit and vegetables and prominently display the produce for customers.
In return, the Department of Health has provided funding to buy fruit and vegetable chillers, stands and marketing materials.
A project co-ordinator will also work with the stores and offer advice on maximising profits, minimising waste, as well as displaying and promoting the new fresh produce to the local community.
Alex Lynch, NHS Norfolk's Change4Life co-ordinator, said: 'We would like to encourage families to sign up to Change4Life and see the benefits for themselves.'
Find out more about the campaign at www.nhs.uk/Change4Life
See Monday's EDP to read what health secretary Andrew Lansley has to say about the future of healthcare in Norfolk.