Childrens Healthy Eating Initiative
The newly elected President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), Matthew Ryan announced a children’s healthy eating initiative for hotels and guesthouses across Ireland.
The initiative, which promotes more choice for parents, is the first nationally coordinated campaign of its kind in Europe. The IHF will provide chefs with healthy preparation guidelines along with a range of nutritious ‘Family Friendly Menus’ seasonally augmented inline with the availability of fresh produce.
In partnership with independent dietitian Margot Brennan, the initiative will see the roll-out of a comprehensive range of menu options across participating hotels and guesthouses. With an estimated 300,000 children now overweight or obese in Ireland, the ‘Family Friendly Menus’ will offer parents fun, interesting and healthy meals that reinforce healthy eating habits with an optimum balance of proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients.
‘Food for Kids’ will not result in additional costs for the family but will help provide parents with wholesome and enjoyable menu options while on holiday or visiting participating establishments.
In 2008, Irish hotels and guesthouses will prepare over five million meals for children, providing a significant opportunity to promote healthy eating among their younger guests. Coordinated and supported by the IHF, participating premises will help to address the pressing health issue of childhood obesity by delivering nutritious meals that are tasty, attractive and fun for children. A substantial number of hotels are anticipated to embrace the initiative, which has received wide-spread and enthusiastic support from the Federation’s members.
Margot Brennan welcomed the initiative stating that whilst the prevalence of eating out amongst Irish children is lower than other countries, it is a very important sector to contribute to healthy eating for children. “Food eaten outside the home tends to be higher in recommended rates of fat and lower in overall nutritional quality. This initiative will be a significant step in providing healthy options for parents and children.”
Childrens Healthy Eating Initiative Guidelines Will Promote
- Eliminating salt in preparation and cooking
- Offering alternatives to chips
- Using ‘real potatoes’ to make homemade chunky chips with no added salt
- Using vegetables & fruit more imaginatively
- Increasing the use of whole-wheat and oats.
- Providing less fried foods
- Increasing the fibre content in children’s food
- Ensuring a child-friendly presentation of food
- Providing fish, chicken and meat that are nutritious and not processed.
The IHF stated that hotels and guesthouses participating in the initiative will display a symbol so that parents can also make an informed selection on the property they choose to have family meals in. The IHF represents over 1,000 hotels and guesthouses throughout the country. Its members employ 60,000 staff.