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The world on your plate

Both here and in America, reversing the trend towards obesity among young people is a priority. These books give a flavour of what can be done to change the menu.

Am I Fit and Healthy? Learning About Diet and Exercise - Me My Body. Claire Llewellyn. Hodder Wayland. pound;5.99

This is a colourful and bright introduction for key stage 1 and lower KS2 children on the need to keep fit and healthy, introducing aspects such as exercise and food, and how these affect us and our bodies positively and negatively.

It examines the reasons why people need food and how our bodies' need for food changes as we grow up and age.

The book analyses the groups that certain foods fall into and provides a warning as to which ones are not so good for us, and the negative effect that eating too much of the wrong food has.

It also briefly examines why some people cannot eat particular types of foods, for example, nuts and certain types of meat.

Am I Fit and Healthy? also looks at exercise and its effects on the body.

It shows that an active lifestyle will not only increase your physical wellbeing, but your mental wellbeing too. It makes the pupil aware that even though others may prefer different types of exercise, it is all valid to health and wellbeing.

It gives simple and accessible information about our bodies and how what we do to them affects how they work.

The pictures are simple, help tell the story and marry up well with the text. They especially help younger children to keep up with the information that is being given.

As an educational resource, this book would allow for two separate lessons within the book - one focused on food and one on physical activity.

It would be an excellent introduction to the lesson and lead to a lot of activities that pupils could then participate in.

Laura Peckett is a PE teacher at Leysland High School in Leicestershire.

Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way toward Healthier Youth. Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press. pound;23.99

Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools highlights the extensive research that has been carried out in the United States to improve the dietary intake and food habits of American children.

It reports on the increased obesity in childhood and the most pressing challenge to nutritional health; and how nutritional issues among children have shifted from nutritional deficiency diseases to concerns about over consumption and poor dietary quality.

The authors make reference to the United States working to single guidelines and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). This is standards-based education reform, which is based on high expectations and goal setting. It has many similarities to our Every Child Matters guidelines.

The book highlights the fact that, like our UK Food Standards Agency, the US has a national school lunch programme, school breakfast programme and after school snack programme, but then this is in competition with foods that are sold in school through vending machines.

There is a dichotomy between finance and health provision. Schools are generating funds by sales of food and beverages, some of which may be unhealthy, however good the healthy meals policy might be.

There is a discussion of Open versus Closed Campuses and how conditions in schools lead to changes in the view of food and eating.

The book highlights the extensive work carried out and the differences in schools between each district level, state and their federal levels.

The writers acknowledge that the quality of the nutritional intake has a profound effect on a range of health issues and that there is a need to boost children's nutritional status in order to improve the health of the nation.

It would seem that the United States have similar problems to the UK.

Barbara James is school bursar at The Long Eaton School in Derbyshire

Healthy Eating in Schools. Verner Wheelock. Publisher: Verner Wheelock. pound;9.99

I found this book an interesting read and very useful in my role as governor responsible for healthy eating.

You can dip in and out for information on improving school meals uptake, healthy snacks and breakfast clubs, and there's some information based on sound scientific research about diet and behaviour and on allergies, which is relevant to some of our special needs pupils.

A number of breakfast clubs have also been shown to help with pupils' concentration and attainment, as well as punctuality and an improvement in attendance.

I also found out a lot about local sourcing of fresh produce for schools that I didn't know before.

The case studies have been written by parents, headteachers, governors, caterers, local authorities and various experts (on allergies for example). There's something for everybody here and I highly recommend it.John Tetley.

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