For Andy Tuilagi there is nothing better for promoting a healthy lifestyle than rugby and good food.
So when the Newcastle Falcon paid a visit to a school in the North East he was more than happy to impart some wisdom as part of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s Something to Chew on initiative.
The scheme is an interactive project in association with BT Sport’s The Supporters Club and Public Health England and is aimed at teaching 7-8 year olds about their health and wellbeing.
Tuilagi was joined by a host of Falcons stars and former England cricketer Graeme Swann to put the Emmaville Primary School pupils through their paces.
He insists it was a breath of fresh air to see the youngsters’ enthusiasm.
"I believe anything the sport can do to help youngsters in the community is essential and we should be doing all we can," he said.
"We have had a great day down here with the kids and you can see from their faces that’s it’s been really good for them.
"We have done all sorts of activities and the kids look like they have taken a lot on board.
"It’s so important to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle so if we can help youngsters do that then that’s really great.
"I love the thought that we can help some of these kids and inspire and educate them into healthier lives."
With government figures showing that more than a fifth of 4-5 year olds, a third of children aged 10-11 and two thirds of adults are currently overweight or obese, Tuilagi knows rugby must do all in its power to help.
Something to Chew on is geared towards tackling the problem and its aims are:
- To improve young people’s understanding of what constitutes healthy eating and a healthy diet, as well as increasing their knowledge of food safety.
- Increase young people’s uptake of physical activity.
- Raise awareness of the core competences among educational stakeholders.
- Work as a contribution towards the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines that all children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least an hour a day.
Tuilagi was keen to stress that what goes into your body is crucial to becoming a top-class athlete.
"When I was younger I knew that if I wanted to get to the top I had to look after myself and eat well," he added.
"If you want to get into a sport like rugby then eating the right foods and getting enough of them is vital.
"Today kids have a lot of information available to them but it’s also easier to eat unhealthy foods.
"So as role models in the community we have to ensure that we are taking that responsibility on."
To find out more about Premiership Rugby's healthy eating programme Something to Chew On funded by The Supporters Club, BT Sport's charitable initiative, and Public Health England, go to premiershiprugby.com/SomethingToChewOn