Serving nutritious hot meals over the winter period such as stews, roast dinners, lasagne, fish pies and hot fruit-based desserts will help to keep students away from stodgy comfort foods. How the food is cooked and prepared can also have a huge influence on the amount of nutrition it provides. If you boil cabbage to within an inch of its life, then it destroys the majority of vitamins and minerals contained within it. Similarly, the more food is processed the less nutrition we derive from it.
There has been much controversy over the past few years about childhood obesity, with the National Child Measurement Programme causing a good deal of upset amongst parents and children who have been classified ‘overweight’ or ‘obese.’ Interestingly studies undertaken over a number of years in other countries show that those who fall into the ‘overweight’ category, but are fit, are actually more likely to live longer than people who are ‘normal’ or ‘underweight.’
At the end of the day it is fitness rather than fatness that should be our concern. This so-called ‘obesity epidemic’ can be controlled by eating sensible portions of balanced meals, based around the ‘Five a Day’ fruit and veg campaign and the Eatwell Plate.
The odd chocolate bar, piece of cake or portion of chips is not going to do anybody any harm, but as with everything else, moderation is the key.
Dr Verner Wheelock is Chairman of Verner Wheelock Associates, specialists in nutrition and food safety training.