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Corner shops in the North East help customers eat their greens

Corner shops in the North East help customers eat their greens

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 13 November 2008

Corner shops in the North East will be the first in England to pilot an £800,000 scheme to get the country eating more fruit and veg and reduce obesity, Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo announced today.

The Department of Health is providing £200,000 this year and £300,000 for the next two years to help local shops sell and promote fruit and veg. Twelve stores have already signed up to the pilot with the aim of 120 coming on board by next May.

In the North East 12.5 per cent of children aged 2-15 are obese, with a further 15.5 per cent qualifying as overweight. In adults 61 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women are overweight or obese.

Shops involved in the pilot will sell a wider range of fruit and vegetables and display them prominently within their stores. In return, the Department of Health will assign a project co-ordinator to work with each store and offer advice on maximising profits, minimising waste and displaying and promoting the new fresh produce to the local community. Shop keepers will also be able to link up with local initiatives, such as cooking clubs, in a bid to help their customers learn how to build fruit and vegetables into their diet.

A similar scheme is already up and running in Scotland. Corner shops north of the border have seen an increase in profits ranging from 20 per cent up to as much as 400 per cent.

People living near the shops have reported that it has encouraged them to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said:

"We all need to aim to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. But we know that can be a tall order - particularly if you live in an area where shops don't sell fresh fruit and veg.

"Around half of secondary school pupils tend to go to corner shops on the way to or from school to buy snacks, so it's essential they're offered a healthy option.

"Our aim is to help up to 120 local shops in the North East to sell good fresh produce. With this scheme everyone's a winner - people living nearby will be able to buy fresh fruit and veg and shop keepers should see their profits soar."

The pilot scheme forms part of the Department of Health's new Change4Life coalition. Change4Life is a lifestyle revolution involving thousands of local organisations and charities which will help mums, dads and families eat well, move more and live longer. Under the banner Change4Life, the Government is aiming to galvanise support from everyone in the country from grass roots organisations to leading supermarkets and charities.

The Department of Health has been working with the Association of Convenience Stores and its membership of key symbol groups in the North East, including Spar, Costcutter, Musgrave, Londis and Nisa Local to secure retailers for the pilot project. All retailers have agreed to match fund the Government's contributions.

James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores added:

"We are excited about being part of this flagship project which will be a kick start for the Change4Life coalition. Convenience stores trade at the heart of communities throughout the country and ensuring there is a strong selection of healthy, fresh produce on offer is an important step forward in tackling obesity."

The North East was chosen as the template region due to its poor general health record compared to other parts of the country, in particular with regards to low life expectancy and high levels of childhood obesity. Concentrating the initial phases of this activity in this region will contribute to the Department of Health's work to reduce health inequalities in England.

This announcement also comes as the North East hosts the first regional summit for the Change4Life coalition.


1. For more information contact the Department of Health newsdesk on 020 7210 5221.

2. Obesity is the biggest challenge faced by UK society. It causes 9000 people to die prematurely every year. It costs the NHS £4.2 billion and the economy £16 billion per year.

3. The Foresight report on obesity was published on 17 October 2007 and can be found at The report indicates that, on current trends, nearly 60 percent of the UK population would be obese by 2050 - that is almost two out of three in the population defined as seriously overweight.

4. The Government's strategy to combat obesity, Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: A Cross Government Strategy for England was published on 23 January and is available at

5. The Change4Life campaign, launched 23rd July 2008, is a coalition between Government, industry partners, NGOs, parents and communities aimed at preventing obesity in under 11 year olds by encouraging healthy eating and activity levels from birth. For more information please go to

6. The participating convenience stores are located in Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Seaton, Gateshead, Hartlepool, County Durham and South Shields. They include:
- Spar, 2-4 Meadowfield, North Seaton, Ashington
- Spar, 30 Moulton Court, Blakelaw, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Londis, 9-11 Lingey Gardens, Wardley, Gateshead
- Londis, 20 Lincoln Avenue, Silksworth, Sunderland
- Premier Pricewatch, 120 Northgate, The Headland, Hartlepool
- Premier St Anthony's Express Store, 153 St Anthony's Road, Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Costcutter, 14 Fabian Court, Eston, Middlesbrough
- Costcutter, 25 High Street, West Cornforth, County Durham
- Nisa Local, 2 Station View, Esh Winning, County Durham
- Nisa Local, 16 Fenby Avenue, Lascelles Pk Centre, Scargill Court, Darlington, County Durham
- Mills Group, St Anselm Road, North Shields, Tyne and Wear
- Mills Group, Stanhope Road, South Shields, Tyne and Wear

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