At least one in five Irish children are overweight or obese, raising concerns amongst parents and medical experts alike.


However, thankfully a new lunchtime initiative for primary schools aims to improve our children's eating habits - while they're having fun!


The Healthy Heroes Lunch Club will educate children about nutrition in order to make creating a healthy lunch easier and more convenient for Irish families.


Teachers and behaviour change experts collaborated to design the programme, along with the support of one of Ireland's foremost consultant nutritionists and dieticians, Dr Mary McCreery.



Dr McCreery noted that one of the programme's goals is to decrease how many treat foods are in our children's lunches and instead boost the nutritional value of the contents of their lunch boxes.


"The school lunch box should provide about 25 to 35 percent of a child’s energy and nutrient needs," she said, "Yet studies have shown that packed lunches are deficient in 'healthy' foods and tend to be high in sugar, saturated fat and salt, while low on starchy foods and fibre."


In order to reverse that trend, children in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club will eat together regularly and talk about nutrition casually. The fun discussion will be led by teachers using material from the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club pack.


Then, led by sixth class students, kids run the rest of the activities. They'll build on suggestions from the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club pack and develop their own club games.



The programme, which comes from the Irish Bread Bakers Association of Ireland, will help make the food pyramid easy for children to understand.


Applying this knowledge, students will learn about how to make a lunch that's nutritional and contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. The lunch of the month will also have plenty of tips for how to fill a lunch box with a meal that's balanced.


"The classroom is the perfect place to help improve children’s knowledge of food and what they eat for lunch," Dr McCreery observed, "Incorporating healthy eating habits from a young age and in a playful environment is a vital stepping stone to their future food habits."


For more information on how your child's school can get involved with the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club, check out their website here.