Page last updated at 17:02 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 18:02 UK

Footballers aim for EU food goal

By Chris Mason
BBC News, Brussels

Sophie Corrigan prepares fruit salad
A simple fruit salad recipe comes from the Rangers captain

Some of Europe's top footballers have published a recipe book - to encourage children to eat more healthily and help tackle the continent's obesity problem.

Health experts say that in the EU some 20% of children are overweight and the rate of increase of childhood obesity is ten times higher than in the 1970s.

Eat for Goals! aims to address this, by trying to persuade children that healthy food can also be tasty food.

The book was created by the football body Uefa and the European Commission.

The suggested dishes range from the straightforward: Scotland and Rangers captain Barry Ferguson goes for fresh fruit salad; to the ambitious: Steven Gerrard, the Liverpool captain and England star sets out the recipe for his favourite, aromatic sea bream.

Cookery class

The bright picture book was launched at the British School of Brussels by the European Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and the President of the World Heart Federation, Professor Pekka Puska.

European Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou (centre) and President of World Heart Federation, Prof Pekka Puska, help children with recipes
Officials see football as a way to interest children in healthy eating

Both donned their pinnies and joined a cookery class. Mrs Vassiliou's enthusiasm for getting involved was matched only by her plain speaking.

"We don't want you to be fat when you grow up," she told the class to nods of approval. "We want you to be nice and slim and healthy."

"It is estimated that 22 million children in the European Union are either obese or overweight - and this is increasing by 1.3 million every year," she told me later.

On the next table 11-year-old Sophie Corrigan is carefully chopping grapes in half. Barry Ferguson's fruit salad - with simplicity at its heart - is going down well.

"I've chopped up apples, mango, grapes and passion fruit - and we're putting all the bits in this hollowed-out pineapple," she says, grabbing the top of the tropical plant by its hard leaves to reveal the range of fruits inside.

"It should taste nice," she says, pausing with a wry smile. "Hopefully."

At the other side of the classroom Prof Puska is surrounded by children as he samples their pasta dish, similar to the one suggested in the book by Bayern Munich and Germany striker Lukas Podolski.

"It's good stuff this, and it makes my point for me," Prof Puska says. "Good, healthy food doesn't have to be dull and bland. It can and should be tasty as well as healthy."

EU to expand food aid programme
17 Sep 08 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific