Dr Heather Hartwell speaks to BBC West Midlands

Dr Heather Hartwell, Professor of Food Service at Bournemouth University recently appeared on the BBC Radio West Midlands as a part of their debate on saturated fats.

Hartwell’s views contrasted with new research findings from Cambridge University which found that “there is no evidence to link saturated fat with heart disease”.

Hartwell began by stating “saturated fat is fat that can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood. The message is we should eat less fat” because we all eat too much”.

The presenter debated Hartwell commenting that “scientists discovered saturated does not cause heart disease, so doesn’t this mean we can all pick up the butter again?”

Hartwell disagreed, arguing that “fat is fat is fat”, and we should all “be reducing our fat intake as many of the foods we eat have lots of hidden fat in them. We should all be eating far more fruits and vegetables”.

“If we get into our heads that we should be eating less fats, that is a simple message to take forward”.

New project to promote vegetable consumption amongst children and the elderly

A new pan European project that aims to promote vegetable consumption among adolescence and elderly is to start in Denmark, France, Italy and the UK.

The aim of VeggiEAT is to take basic dishes containing ‘hidden vegetables’ to encourage more vegetable intake in school children and elderly people – the model will take account of sensory preference and attitude towards vegetable intake and hopes to show how easy it can be to eat a nutritious, vegetable-heavy diet.

Adequate intake is fundamental to a healthy balanced diet, however, EU compliance with vegetable dietary guidelines is poor and further research is required to overcome consumption barriers.   It is hoped that the study will bring benefits for European vegetable manufacturers too as it adds to the body of knowledge regarding consumer behaviour and preferences towards vegetables.

Dr Heather Hartwell, an associate professor in nutrition at Bournemouth University and principal investigator in the project, said, “This research will not only bring new information about the mapping of hospitality practice within the wider public health agenda but it will also play a major contribution towards evidence based practice for the EU Consumer Policy Strategy and to the Action Plan on Food and Nutrition Policy. The potential value of this research, therefore, to inform public health policy and strategy is identifiable.”

VeggiEAT is an industry-academia partnership led by Bournemouth University, UK with academic partners Aalborg University and the University of Florence and industrial/SME partners Bonduelle and the Institut Paul Bocuse Research Centre.  The project will run from October 2013 to October 2017.

Dr Heather Hartwell joins radio debate on brands and nutrition

Associate Professor in Food Service and Applied Nutrition at BU Heather Hartwell took part in a Battle of the Brands debate on BBC Radio Solent.

The feature, on Alex Dyke’s mid-morning show, came as research showed that supermarket own-brands now account for 43 per cent of food sales.

Heather told Alex that she believed supermarket brands could more than match up to well-established names in terms of taste and nutritional value.

“Sometimes there’s no difference, but sometimes they are actually better.

“The traditional brands, they do put a little bit more sugar and salt in them, because they taste nicer, and the value brands don’t do that.”

She added that this particularly happened with cereals, and encouraged people to take a closer look at the labels and nutritional information.

“Cereals are some of the labels that people look at most, because they are out on the breakfast table, they’ve got time to look at them. It’s a staple product, so it is worth looking at the nutritional value labelling and comparing it to the own brands.”

“You could be saving yourself a lot of money, and nutritionally they are the same.”

She said that humans are creatures of habit, and could be difficult to steer away from long-established food traditions – adding that she had even resorted to buying own-brand products and putting them in familiar brand packaging so her family didn’t notice!

You can hear the debate in full here.