STUDENTS at Edinburgh University are in line to learn one of life's most crucial lessons:

the vital importance of healthy nutrition.

The university's accommodation services department has launched its first Cook School, aimed at teaching students who have left home with little culinary know-how to prepare fresh dishes for themselves.

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This initiative could hardly be better timed. As we report today, a study by the Nuffield Health organisation has found that a failure to recognise personal obesity levels is risking the lives of more than half a million Scots. About 9% of those surveyed felt they were obese, but results after body mass index examinations showed that 20% were clinically obese, with 5% considered morbidly obese.

The normal student diet of takeaways and microwaved ready-meals is neither cheap nor likely to do much for the average waistline, but this cook school could help change behaviour and demonstrate that cooking with fresh ingredients can be both cost-effective and healthy. No-one is expecting the course to produce a new generation of Masterchefs, but a new emphasis on healthy eating can only bring a degree of success.