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Access to Free Fruit Below Average For School Children

A study carried out by the Associação Portuguesa Contra a Obesidade Infantil (APCOI), in partnership with the Instituto de Saúde Ambiental – ULisboa (ISAMB), on school lunch eating habits in Portugal found that only 47.8% of the regions school classes have access to free fruit.

According to research regarding the free distribution of fruits and vegetables at school, either through the European School Fruit Scheme or other local support mechanisms during the 2021/2022 school year, the average across Portugal stood at 60.5%.

Faro has the highest percentage of classes with access to free fruit distributed at school (92.9%), followed by Braga (83.0%), Santarém (78.1%), Évora (70 .8%), Viseu (68.0%), Leiria (66.2%), Porto (61.5%), Beja (60%), Aveiro (59.4%), Coimbra (52.0%) , Setúbal (50.7%), Castelo Branco and Vila Real both with 50%, Madeira (47.8%), Lisbon (47.7%), Guarda (44.4%), Azores (41.7%) , Portalegre (35.7%), Bragança (20.0%) and Viana do Castelo (9.1%).

The study also looked at the differences between the various districts and regions regarding students who did not eat fruit and vegetables daily before participating in the Heroes da Fruta school challenge, and the findings say the organisation “are worrying.”

In turn, the ISAMB/FMUL team of researchers also analyzed the effects of the implementation of the Heróis da Fruta school challenge in the 2021/2022 school year on changes in students’ eating habits, and concluded that, overall, after participating in this project, the percentage of students who did not consume fruit or vegetables daily at school decreased from 19.6% to 6.9%.

In all districts and regions, there was also a reduction in the daily consumption of unhealthy school snacks after the implementation of the project, with the exception of Madeira and the district of Portalegre.

Samantha Gannon

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