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What's my job... schools dietician for Brent

My post is possibly unique in that it is full-time, financed by the Children's Fund, works within the primary care trust and links in with the healthy schools co-ordinator.

I work in about 15 primary schools helping with one-off projects, helping to produce balanced school meals, breakfast clubs, working with parents, teachers and school nurses.

I am not an eating disorders specialist; my role is promoting a healthy attitude towards food. I never talk about good foods or bad foods but only about balance and variety. Children have very high energy requirements, the food they eat should be nutrient-dense and they also need fat and sugar.

There is no reason for them to be drinking skimmed milk and I would never recommend any low-fat products unless this was specified for a child under the care of a paediatrician.

I concentrate on the basics, the balance of good health model, but I also promote enjoyment of food. I have introduced some basic practical cooking skills for children into schools. I have worked with schools on children's social skills around food, improving the dining environment, making lunchtime more relaxed and pleasurable. I am also encouraging schools to give children time to eat together, perhaps playing music or putting cloths on tables to make the experience more attractive."

Melanie O'Brien was talking to Elaine Williams

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