UNICEF unveils mock store to promote healthy childhood diet in China

Xu Xiaoxuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 20, 2022
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Children and government representatives from Chengdu cut the ribbon for UNICEF's "Know Your Food" convenience store at the launch ceremony on May 17, 2022. [Photo courtesy of UNICEF]

On Tuesday, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a new concept convenience store in Chengdu, the capital of southwest China's Sichuan province, to promote a healthy childhood diet. 

The "Know Your Food" convenience store, set in an activity center of Chengdu Youth Palace, is the centerpiece of UNICEF's "Know Your Food" campaign, launched on the same day to empower children to make informed, healthy choices about their diet through improved nutrition literacy.

Children and government representatives from Chengdu cut the ribbon for UNICEF's "Know Your Food" convenience store at the launch ceremony on May 17, 2022. [Photo courtesy of UNICEF]

In the store, dozens of imitation snacks are displayed, including replicas of puffed foods, candy and sugary drinks, labeled with their sugar and fat content. Advice on making healthier food choices is also offered in the store. 

"A changing environment characterized by increased availability of cheap, highly processed foods and beverages together with aggressive marketing of these products to children can contribute to the rapid growth of overweight and obesity in children," said Cynthia McCaffrey, UNICEF representative to China. Therefore, UNICEF created this mock store to simulate the food environment that children are exposed to every day. 

By revealing the high, unhealthy levels of fat, sugar and salt, the store is expected to enable children and their parents to understand the nutrition values of popular snacks and beverages and make more informed choices, McCaffrey added.

Obesity can pose higher risks of chronic diseases and cause emotional and behavioral problems in children. It may also generate economic impacts on individuals, families and society as a whole. According to the Report on the Nutrition and Chronic Disease Status of Chinese Residents (2020), the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children aged 6-17 years old reached 11.1% and 7.9%, respectively. 

At the launch ceremony, Jia Yong, deputy director of the Chengdu Municipal Health Commission, expressed his gratitude to UNICEF for setting up the store in the city and called for more involvement among children and parents. 

The mock store will operate permanently in Chengdu. Similar stores will be unveiled in Weihai in east China's Shandong province and Enshi in central China's Hunan province to improve nutrition literacy among children and their parents.

UNICEF also opened virtual stores on Chinese social platforms WeChat and Weibo and short video platform Kwai. It works with university professors to record scientific experiment videos on food content to increase children's nutrition awareness. 

"Governments, food companies and marketers, communities and schools have a collective responsibility to put children's needs first, and guarantee children's rights to nutritious food and healthy futures. We must work together to reshape food environments and reverse the trend in childhood overweight and obesity before it is too late," said McCaffrey.

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