Thursday, 3 May 2012

No-one could possibly have predicted that

Well, no-one could possibly have predicted that: Secondary school pupils 'not eating enough' according to the BBC headline. No, it's not an article about child poverty and malnutrition.

It turns out that...

For example, in 2004 43% of pupils had chips with their lunch compared to just 7% in 2011.

And almost all schools have ditched the sale of chocolate, sweets and crisps.

...if you remove the provision of food which is both tasty and provides lots of energy...

School Food Trust research suggests pupils get a quarter of the recommended daily intake from lunch, rather than the third that is advised.


"Despite huge improvements to what's on the menu, teenagers are still not choosing food combinations that will give them enough energy and nutrients to stay alert all afternoon."

...the people eating that food will be short on energy.


[the research] found significant improvements in the nutritional value of meals offered by secondary schools and healthier choices made by pupils.

It may well be true that the vitamins and other nutrients are
better provided than they were a decade ago. But as regards basic
energy, complaining that students aren't getting enough when there's
been a near-ban on the foods best at providing energy is absurd.

But then, this is a society where some "energy drinks" are actively
marketed as "low calorie"1, so perhaps it shouldn't be all that
surprising that nutritionists are acting baffled at the reduction of
calorie content leading to a reduction in energy.


1 Because the way that calorie content of food is
calculated bears very little resemblance to most human's metabolic
processes2, I can believe that it's very possible to
produce an energy drink which metabolises well but doesn't test high
in calories.

2 Essentially: set fire to the food, see how much energy
this releases, then apply some 19th century adjustment factors to
vaguely account for composition. Modern
skip the "set fire to the food" step and just
calculate based on broad composition approximately how much energy
would be released if one did set fire to it, but the underlying
principle is the same. People with furnace-based instead of
chemically-based digestive systems will probably get reasonably
accurate results from this.