IN 2000, when Groupe Danone conceptualised the Danone Nations Cup, which has grown into the biggest football tournament for kids between 10 and 12 years old in the world, with over 3.2 million kids from 32 countries getting involved every year, the aim was to use football to teach kids the importance of developing healthy eating habits.
The 2013 Danone Nations Cup World Final, happening in the UK from 3 – 7 September, will support the ‘Eat Like a Champ’ campaign, an award-winning healthy eating education programme for primary schools created by Danone UK in collaboration with the British Nutrition Foundation. Originally launched in 2010 the number of schools has grown from 25 to 1000 in 2013.
The objective of ‘Eat Like a Champ’ is to help tackle the growing issue of poor nutrition amongst children by inspiring them to adopt the healthier eating habits of stars they admire – like SA and World Final ambassadors, Neil Tovey and Zinedine Zidane.
During the World Finals every participant, including the 12-players from Daniye Primary School, who will be representing South Africa, will have six lessons: “eat well”, “5 a day”, “nutrients and water”, “healthy lunches”, “snack swaps” and “energy balance”. Each lesson is designed to teach children how to make healthy choices about what they eat and drink, and is supported by tasting sessions. At the end of each lesson, the children will be rewarded with a short film.
“The World Finals aims to give children a truly unforgettable experience,” said Chantel Ehlers, DNC communications specialist. “Our team, Daniye Primary, comes from a small, poor community in Bushbuckridge and will benefit from this programme. We believe it will be perhaps the most valuable lesson the kids will learn – and will last a lifetime.”
In 2012 The Children’s Food Trust, based in the UK, conducted an independent study to establish whether ‘Eat Like a Champ’ makes a difference to participants’ eating patterns. The research found pupils who participated shifted their behaviour towards healthier eating habits. They ate on average an equivalent of two more portions of fruit and vegetables per week, and their consumption of foods such as biscuits and crisps dropped by the
equivalent of one chocolate bar per week.
The draw for the World Finals will take place in London on August 19 and the SA team leaves for London on 2 September. The final day of play will happen at the renowned Wembley Stadium.