Charity in bid to help boost folate and calcium in school meals

Published on Thursday, 03 January 2013 10:44
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

School cooks are being urged to do their bit to help make sure children have strong bones, teeth and energy levels at school with the help of two new recipe books.

The books – launched this month by the Children's Food Trust – are focused on getting more folate and calcium into children's meals at school.

It comes after national dietary surveys showing that many 11-18 year olds don't have enough of either nutrient in their diet – leaving them at risk of rickets in childhood, brittle bones later in life and anaemia.

The charity's nutritionist Laura Sharp said: "Cooks have told us that it can be tough to get enough calcium and folate into menus, so these books provide lots of recipes and tips. All of the recipes have been tried and tested in schools so we know they're popular with pupils. And they're a great source of inspiration for parents wanting ideas to use at home."

The books are part of the charity's 'Recipes for Success' series, a collection of recipe books for school cooks and available to download for free on the Trust's website.

National dietary surveys have shown that one-eighth of 11 to 18 year olds in the UK have insufficient calcium in their diet*. Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth, especially during childhood and adolescence when bones grow rapidly. Children who don't have enough calcium are at risk of developing rickets in childhood and osteoporosis or brittle bones in later life. It's also important for muscle and nerve function, for keeping the heart beating, and blood clotting.

The most recent national diet and nutrition survey shows that 5% (one in 20) 11 to 18-year-olds in the UK have insufficient folate in their diet*. Folate, known as folic acid when taken as a supplement, has several important functions. It works to form healthy red blood cells and to help nerves function properly, and is essential for the formation of DNA (genetic material) which allows each cell to reproduce. A lack of folate can cause a type of anaemia, leading to tiredness and lack of energy. It can't be stored in the body, so children should eat folate-rich foods regularly.

*Source: National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) Headline results for Years 1, 2 and 3 of the rolling programme 2008/09–2010/11. The latest results are online here

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Source: ©Children's Food Trust

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0 #1 MD, Cucina RestaurantsSteve Quinn 2013-01-03 19:04
An excellent launch by The School Food Trust, and I will be interested to see how these books are taken up and used.

initiatives like this one need to present themselves as coherent parts of an overall strategy that shows that some joined-up thinking has been employed.

And, as the seemingly indefatigable Jamie Oliver and others have been saying for so long now, real and lasting change comes about when things are made mandatory.

So, while I don't wish to put a negative spin on this excellent initiative to improve children's health, all in this industry must continue to press for non-negotiable, across-the-boar d measures, otherwise we will only ever see piecemeal results.

Steve Quinn

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