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Issue Date:-06 October 2008

Liverpudlians Fail their Health Test

PEOPLE in Liverpool are so saturated with health messages that they no longer know what is good for them.  A survey by Yakult has revealed people still are unsure how much exercise they should be undertaking and how much salt, water, dairy and calories they should be consuming per day as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

When asked how much exercise they should be undertaking, 84% did not know that ’30 minutes of moderate intense activity 5 times a week’ was the recommended guideline amount.  This is despite government campaigns for people to include exercise as part of their daily routine as physical activity is key to reducing the risks of cancer, heart disease and obesity. 

More worrying, especially in light of the current obesity epidemic, is the fact that 20% of men thought their daily calorie intake should be 4500 calories or more, nearly double the official guideline of 2500 calories.

Despite increased awareness over salt levels in our food, 79% did not know that 6 grams of salt was the maximum recommended daily intake – the 3rd highest in the country.  The nation is encouraged to limit salt intake in effort to reduce the risks of high blood pressure which in turn can lead to strokes and heart attacks – 2 of the most common causes of death and illness in the world.

Nutritionist Fiona Hunter says:- "People are bombarded with health messages from a variety of different sources – from friends, family and the media through to food manufactures and retailers so I’m not surprised people are often confused.  It's important that people remember that nutrition is an evolving science and as such we are constantly fine-tuning the message. 

But despite this, the advice on what we need to eat to stay healthy has changed very little over the last two last decades.  The advice is still to enjoy a wide variety of foods, eat at least five portions of fruit and/or vegetables day along with modest amounts of fat, salt and sugar and to take regular exercise and keep weight within the ideal range."

In addition to confusion over exercise and calories, many people also don’t seem to know about the importance of keeping hydrated.  Water is the most important nutrient of life and not having the right level of fluids affects the way the body operates on a daily basis. 

However, it seems that this message is still to get through to many of the population, as 42% of people did not know that 6-8 glasses of fluids per day is the recommended intake.  However, while dairy products provide an essential source of calcium protein and other nutrients, sadly 81% of people did not know they should be eating 3 portions of dairy per day.

Nutritionist Fiona Hunter continues:- "Good health is like a jigsaw puzzle in that there are many different elements that contribute to the big picture.  A healthy diet and regular exercise are very important pieces of the jigsaw and the good news is that making small changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a real difference to your health."

Fiona Hunter’s top nutrition and health tips

1) Keep your diet varied.  A balanced diet is the easiest way to keep our digestive systems – and our whole bodies – in good shape.  Aim to eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and starchy, fibre-rich foods – and cut down on fatty, sugary and salty foods.

2) Get enough calcium.  Calcium intake is key throughout life and we should aim to have 700-800g a day.  You can easily meet this by having a mug of milk (or the equivalent amount on your cereal), a pot of yoghurt and a matchbox size piece of cheese.

3) Keep hydrated.  Over half of our body is made of water so it’s unsurprising that we need to keep our fluid levels topped up.  Try not to have too many drinks with caffeine but look to have 6-8 glasses a day.

4) Eat plenty of fibre.  We need about 18g of fibre a day and the best sources are wholegrain cereals, pasta and bread.

5) Exercise is not just good for fitness, it helps digestion.  Aim for 30 minutes, 5 times a week.  But you don’t just need to be in the gym – gardening, walking the dog and even rigorous housework can add to your weekly session count.

6) Take a daily probiotic.  This should be seen less as a quick fix solution and more as a long term health investment to help maintain your gut health while supporting your body’s natural defences.

7) Think about food storage – eating the right food will not be enough if its not stored or prepared properly.  Keep fridges at temperatures under 5ºC and make sure you cook food thoroughly at a minimum of 70ºC to kill any bacteria present.

8) Watch your weight – over 75% of people aged over 50 are heavier than they should be.  Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease as well as a number of other serious health problems.

9) Look at labels.  All products have to show nutritional information on their packaging so if you are in doubt – check it out.  If you’re unsure then try the FSA’s Eat Well site –

£25 million investment in Croxteth schools

MORE than £25 million is set to be invested creating 2 state-of-the-art schools in Croxteth.  Under the plans which will go before the city council’s Executive Board, high performing St John Bosco Arts College for Girls will be refurbished and formally opened up to non-Catholic girls from the local community.

In addition, the city council is to seek permission to establish a new build Catholic Academy for boys on the site of De La Salle School, which will also be open to non-Catholic boys.  It is also being proposed that Croxteth Community Comprehensive School - where 1 in 3 desks are empty because of surplus places and 66% of pupils do not get 5 good GCSE’s - will close by 2010.  The number of pupils entering year 7 at the school has more than halved over the last 5 years, down from 135 in 2003 to just 57 last month.

Parents who want their children to attend a community school will be offered a place at nearby Fazakerley High School.  The council is to set up a free dedicated bus service so that students displaced from Croxteth Community Comprehensive School can travel the one mile to the school without difficulty.

The council’s executive member for education, Councillor Keith Turner, said:- "It is clear from current projections that the Croxteth area can no longer sustain 3 secondary schools.  Falling school rolls dictate that we can’t spend tens of millions of pounds on new schools which all the evidence shows will be virtually empty in a few years.  I strongly believe that this solution meets the needs of young people in Croxteth and the wider community by investing in successful schools in the area and giving parents the option of sending their children to a nearby community school. 

I know that parents and pupils at Croxteth Community Comprehensive School will be disappointed, but the school just has far too many surplus places and that situation is not going to improve.  Our proposals focus on retaining the two most successful schools in the area while maintaining community education provision.  By building on the strengths of St John Bosco Catholic School and creating a Catholic academy which will be a flagship for the city, we will ensure pupils get the massive investment and high quality education they deserve.”

Should the Academy at De La Salle School not be given the go-ahead by the Office of the Schools Commissioner, the existing school will be rebuilt and be opened up to non-Catholic boys. 

The new proposals are part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which is the biggest schools rebuilding scheme ever seen in Liverpool.  It is providing £485 million to rebuild or improve secondary schools in the city.  The work at De La Salle and St John Bosco will also be completed earlier than initially proposed.  The schemes have been brought forward into Wave 2 of BSF rather than Wave 6, to make sure that the investment goes into the Croxteth area as soon as possible.

In order to secure the funding from the government, the council has had to review existing secondary school provision in the city and convince the government that the schools they are investing in are viable and sustainable.  A key challenge facing not only Liverpool, but cities across the country, is declining pupil numbers.  Liverpool is losing around 1,000 pupils from the system each year, and over the next 5 years, the city will face significant surplus places in secondary schools largely caused by a declining birth rate.


THE number of abandoned cars on Southport streets has fallen as more cars are being scrapped illegally for their valuable metal. 
Recent statistics from the Local Government Association show the number of cars reported as abandoned on the streets of Sefton council area fell from 202 in 2002/3 to 88 in 2006/7 – a drop of 56%.

Scrap merchants would have charged £30 to £50 to take away a rusty banger only a few years ago.  Now they will pay owners up to £200 because the price of steel, aluminium and copper found in cars has risen steeply.  The dramatic increase in metal prices, fuelled by demand from countries like China, has led to a massive increase in the number of unlicensed operators flouting environmental laws on the disposal of scrap cars.

The End-of-Life Vehicles Directive, which became UK law in 2003, requires potential contaminants such as oil, brake fluid, tyres and airbags to be removed from cars before they are scrapped.  Old cars must be taken to one of 1,200 ATFs licensed by the Environment Agency.  Car owners should be issued with a Certificate of Destruction to prove that the vehicle has been depolluted, scrapped lawfully and road tax is no longer due.   But many local illegal dismantlers are undercutting the ATF’s by collecting cars and disposing of them illegally.  With only around 900,000 Certificates of Destruction estimated to be issued this year, as many as 1.1 million old cars could be unlawfully collected during 2008.  Legitimate companies who have invested in the depolluting equipment necessary to be registered by the Environment Agency are being forced out of business by the rogue traders.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Davies says the fault lies with the DVLA who are accused of maintaining a loophole that allows huge numbers of drivers and vehicle dismantlers to ignore the anti-pollution rules.  Car owners can claim that they have scrapped the car themselves simply by ticking a box on their vehicle registration document.  Mr Davies claims it is time for a Government crackdown to put the dodgy dismantlers out of business.  Mr Davies said:- “While it is welcome news that less scrap cars are littering our streets, this has only been made possible by the increase in criminals cashing in at the expense of the environment.  Ministers are allowing illegal operators to run rings around them at the expense of the environment and allowing legitimate businesses to go to the wall.  This law is good news for the environment, but the entire scheme is undermined if these people can simply carry on letting oil and brake fluids wash down the nearest drain."

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