PUPILS at the Marist Catholic Primary School having been putting their best foot forward on a new endeavour, all taking part in “the Daily Mile”.

READY, SET, GO!: Pupils at the Marist Catholic Primary School running the Daily Mile

“This is a national initiative which we are taking on throughout the school as it has been proven that when children run daily, it not only improves their general fitness and health, but also improves concentration in the classroom, not to mention being fun and sociable,” said Sheila Helsby, a Year 1 teacher at the West Byfleet school.

“Every day, each teacher will choose a convenient time to take their class outside in the fresh air to run around the all-weather field. Despite the name, it’s never a set distance. The idea is for each child to run or jog at their own pace for 15 minutes, walking when they need to catch their breath. Children run in their school clothes and there’s no need for any equipment. They can chat to their friends as they run along.”

Studies have shown that when young children run for 15 minutes, 75% will run at least one mile or more and this increases to 90% for older primary school children. Regular physical activity such as the Daily Mile can lead to improvements in social, mental and emotional health.

For the full story get the 9 May edition of the News & Mail

I recently read an article in the Metro about a health charity that was claiming that supermarkets are helping to increase obesity by putting chocolate Easter eggs too soon on their shelves. Apparently three weeks before Easter 23% of the British people had already purchased and eaten a full-sized chocolate egg.

When you look at the nutrition of a medium, hollow chocolate egg, it contains about 400 calories and 45 grams of sugar. A milk chocolate bunny (50 grams) has 270 calories and 28 grams of sugar. And that’s without any extra packs of mini-eggs or chocolate bars.

According to the NHS, the UK recommended maximum daily sugar intake for adults is 30 grams, 24 grams for children seven to 10 years old, and for four to six years old it is 19 grams. Give your child a 50-gram milk chocolate bunny and he/she is already over the maximum daily sugar allowance.

So, based on that information, I can understand the reaction of the health charity mentioned in the article. But what I don’t understand is that they forgot about the fact that when the Easter eggs are cleared, there is still plenty of chocolate on the shelves, even very near the tills. Is that not fuelling obesity then?

Am I against Easter eggs or chocolate in general? No, I’m not.

The whole trick with chocolate Easter eggs is to make sure you buy good quality ones – which brings me to the subject of chocolate.

Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Which one is better?

The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa and the higher the level of beneficial nutrients. You can get dark chocolate with 35-100% cocoa.

It’s all about the quality of chocolate. Look at these ingredients of a common milk chocolate bar: milk, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vegetable fats (palm, shea), emulsifiers (E442, E476), flavourings. In every 227 g of this specific milk chocolate there is the equivalent of 426 ml of fresh liquid milk.

And to compare, these are the ingredients of a common available dark chocolate bar: cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract

White chocolate is made of cocoa butter (fat). These are ingredients of a supermarket white chocolate bar: cane sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, milkfat, emulsifier soyalecithin, sea salt, vanilla extract.

In Summary:

  • Easter eggs are a fun tradition but limit the consumption.
  • The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial nutrients.
  • If you don’t like dark chocolate, go for a high-quality milk chocolate, but check the ingredients, as some chocolate is highly processed and full of sugar, dairy, emulsifiers and flavouring.
  • As with all processed foods: check labels!
  • For true health benefits, eat raw chocolate (available in health-food stores and some supermarkets).

Happy Easter to you all!

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For the full article get the 18 April edition of the News & Mail