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A new edition of the "Fruit Heroes" project starts today in 217 schools in the Porto district

The 12th edition of the largest health education initiative in Portugal "Fruit Heroes" officially starts today in 3,649 classes from 1,430 schools in all districts and regions of the country, including Azores and Madeira

Lisbon is the district with the highest number of registered schools (287), followed by Porto (217), Setúbal (132), Braga (108), Faro (93), Leiria (80), Santarém (74), Aveiro (72), Coimbra (62), Viseu (47), Viana do Castelo (42), Beja (36) and Évora (36), Azores (28), Castelo Branco (24), Portalegre (22) and Madeira (22), Vila Real (20), Guarda (15) and Bragança (13). Complete list of schools (by District and Municipality) available at the following link: Increasing the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables in schools is the main goal of this project launched in 2011 by the Portuguese Association Against Childhood Obesity (APCOI), which this school year is implemented in 216 of the 308 Portuguese municipalities (70.1%).

In the coming weeks, the students of the enrolled classes will be encouraged to improve their eating habits through the "Fruit Heroes" method that provides free educational materials to schools starring a group of model characters who gain "superpowers" when they eat "superfoods" combining non-formal education techniques: storytelling and gamification.

Over the last decade, more than half a million students have improved their daily eating habits by participating in the Fruit Heroes project, with results scientifically proven by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Health (ISAMB) of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon (FMUL):

  • 40% of the children who participate for the first time reach the WHO recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables in just 5 weeks. After 10 weeks, that percentage increases to 60%.

  • Schools that repeat the program the following school year reach more than 90% of the class in just 2 weeks, including students who had not adopted this healthy eating routine in the first year.

Mário Silva, president of APCOI says that "96% of participating teachers in previous editions consider that it would be very beneficial to the health of children if the project Fruit Heroes was implemented in all Portuguese schools" and recalls that "in the previous school year, in addition to increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, this project managed to reduce the intake of less healthy foods in school snacks by 52%.

A success that can only be achieved thanks to the involvement of all partners who support this initiative." The 12th edition of the Heróis da Fruta school challenge is carried out with the solidary support of Supermercados Aldi, Lusíadas Dental and Maçã de Alcobaça. "And so that no interested school is left out of this edition, we decided to extend the registration period on the website until January 15, 2023," concludes Mário Silva.

Founded in 2010, the Portuguese Association Against Childhood Obesity (APCOI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of childhood obesity, considered worldwide the most prevalent chronic disease in pediatric age. In 2019, among more than 40 European countries studied, Portugal was pointed out by the WHO as the main reference of good practices in the prevention of childhood obesity for having managed to decrease the number of overweight children by 8% in the last decade. European data from 2019 verified however that one in three children in Portugal (29.7%) still lives with obesity or pre-obesity.


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