Marlborough children eat more fruit and vege

Marlborough children are big fans of fruit and veges, a new study shows.

Marlborough children are big fans of fruit and veges, a new study shows.

Close to half of Marlborough children are watching television for two or more hours each day, new figures show.

The results of the New Zealand Health Survey 2011-2014 provide a health profile of Kiwi children aged between 2 and 14.

Children within the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board eat more fruit and vegetables than any other region in the country, while the proportion of children who eat fast food three or more times a week is lowest in the Marlborough region. 

Mayfield Kindergarten pupil Ingrid Tucker, 4, brushes her teeth at the launch of the Marlborough Toothbrushing Project.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Mayfield Kindergarten pupil Ingrid Tucker, 4, brushes her teeth at the launch of the Marlborough Toothbrushing Project.

There were slightly lower levels of obesity in the region, and the proportion of children who drink fizzy drink on a regular basis also fell below the national average.

Television watching habits in Marlborough were comparable to the rest of the country, with 48.9 per cent of children sitting in front of the television for two or more hours each day.

Children watched the most television in Gisborne, while children on the West Coast spent the least amount of time sitting in front of the box. 

The top regions for fast food consumption were Wellington and Gisborne.

Gisborne also topped the list for fizzy drink consumption, with 35 per cent of children drinking fizzy drink three or more times per week. 

The survey involved interviews with 13,742 children from New Zealand's 20 district health boards.

Springlands School principal Gaylene Beattie said it was good to see the number of children eating breakfast each morning in Marlborough was higher than the national average.

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"But it still shows that 5 per cent are starting their day without breakfast." 

Children struggled with concentration and motivation if they did not have breakfast in the morning, Beattie said. 

Pleasing results within the survey included slightly lower levels of obesity in Marlborough, and more children eating their greens. 

"The fruit and vege levels were good to see. 

"I think that's probably because as a region we have such great produce." 

Several schools in the region had orchards through the Enviroschools programme, Beattie said.

The Marlborough climate and availability of outdoor activities meant it was easy for children to get active outdoors, she said. 

Healthy gums

A new pilot programme is helping to improve dental health among children in the Marlborough region.

A two year partnership between the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and the Marlborough Kindergarten Association will involve more than 400 children at seven kindergartens.

Children will brush their teeth each day under the supervision of a kindergarten teacher as part of the programme, which was launched last week at Mayfield Kindergarten.

The daily tooth brushing project will involve two six-week blocks over the course of a year. 

Mayfield Kindergarten✓ head teacher Kathryn Richards said the project made children less reluctant to brush their teeth at home.

"They do it with their peers so it becomes a bit more fun and they're keen to show what they've learnt when they get home."

The tooth brushing programme started at Mayfield about six years ago, and has been expanded to include the other six kindergartens within the Marlborough Kindergarten Association network.

Marlborough Kindergarten Association general manager Wendy Logan said staff limited sugary snacks and drinks at the association's kindergartens and encouraged parents to enrol their children with the Marlborough oral health service. 

The tooth brushing project showed children the best way to brush their teeth, Logan said.

"We support anything that's going to improve a child's health." 

Results from the New Zealand Health Survey show 3.9 per cent of Marlborough children had one or more teeth removed because of decay, abscess, infection or gum disease in the past year.

Only 75.1 per cent of Marlborough children surveyed had seen a dental care worker over the past year, compared to 81.2 per cent of children nationally.

 

 - The Marlborough Express

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