Lessons on health and eating right at Abu Dhabi farms

The initiative is designed to educate pupils on the health benefits of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

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ABU DHABI // Hundreds of schoolchildren have visited local farms to learn about healthy eating.

Pupils from 14 schools in the emirate are taking part in this year’s “eat right and get active” campaign, which is advocating eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

“I have never been to a farm before and I learnt how plants grow,” said one pupil, from Horizon Private School Branch in Khalifa City.

The initiative is a joint project between the Health Authority Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre and the visits will continue during the week in Al Wathba.

Chris Hirst, the centre’s chief executive, said it was crucial to educate children from a young age on the benefits of getting enough fruit and vegetables in their diet.

“This is a great initiative to support the Government’s work to change children’s eating habits. Educating children from a young age on the importance of a healthy lifestyle will pay dividends later in life,” said Mr Hirst.

The centre and the health authority provided training to 20 teachers in advance of the visits and it is hoped that teachers will continue to spread the healthy eating message. The recommendation on the five portions is a minimum requirement for good health and the prevention of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Abdullah Al Mangoosh, a farm owner, welcomed the visits.

“There is happiness and joy on our farm. The children love to see and eat our vegetables. This is why we like to farm,” said Mr Al Mangoosh.

Locally-grown cherry tomatoes were given away to all the children who visited the farms.

The centre’s goal for the campaign is to increase consumption of local fruit and vegetables and to improve public health.