Prof. Dr. Christine Graf

  • rof. Dr. Christine Graf, German Sport University Cologne © Axel Schulten
    rof. Dr. Christine Graf, German Sport University Cologne © Axel Schulten

Lifestyle research reveals exciting new insights. We talk to Prof. Dr. med. Dr. Sportwiss. Christine Graf. Known as the ”SpoHo“, the Cologne Sport University is Germany’s only sports university. In collaboration with the Cologne Department of Education and Health,the Stadtsportbund Köln, AOK Rheinland/ Hamburg and the Verein der Freunde und Förderer des Herzzentrums Köln (Association of Friends and Supporters of the Heart Centre Cologne), the „SpoHo“ has developed the CHILT (Children’s Health InterventionaL Trial) project – a step-by-step programme for the prevention and treatment of obesity in children and adolescences. We ask Prof. Graf whether children are really getting fatter, what we can do about it and where Prof. Graf likes to eat ...

Professor Graf, you are a sports physician at the German Sport University and are currently involved in research into exercise and nutrition. What did you have for breakfast this morning?

An espresso macchiato and a butter pretzel. But I also like Greek yoghurt with walnuts, honey and fruit.

Today, most people know that exercise and a healthy diet are good for us. But has university research come up with any new insights from the world of exercise and nutrition for us?

Research into lifestyles is producing some pretty interesting results. These are gaining ground at the university and in science generally. A balanced diet is essential to losing weight – input and output simply have to match. However, body composition is even more important to staying healthy, in particular, the fat to muscle tissue ratio. Muscle is health promoting tissue – and every muscle contraction releases elements that help keep blood vessels healthy, strengthen the immune system and improve the metabolism. Exercise does not have to be particularly intense. Everyday activities also play an important role. The goal is to achieve 10,000 steps per day.

Are children in Germany really getting fatter? And if so, what is the Institute of Movement and Neurosciences at the German Sport University in Cologne doing about it?

Yes, generally speaking audio-visual media is having a huge impact on the lifestyles of children and adolescents. Even more dramatic is the realisation that even children of normal weight exhibit an unfavourable body composition. It remains to be seen what the longterm consequences of this will be. We are trying to take countermeasures in decisive phases of development such as pregnancy. By leading healthy lifestyles mothers-to-be not only suffer fewer complaints during and after pregnancy but also have healthier children. In addition, we have developed programmes to promote healthy lifestyles in day-care centres, nursery schools and primary schools.

Under the banner of „Culinary Cologne“, KölnTourismus and the Meeting Point Cologne are focusing this year on the culinary side of the city and region. Which Cologne „food trend“ has impressed you the most recently?

It‘s a difficult question because there is wide choice out there and I’m not always up with the latest developments. However, I am happy to note that restaurants are picking up on healthy-eating trends and also have an ecological focus which includes serving local products. Even fast food has changed a bit and burgers don‘t taste like cardboard anymore.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Cologne?

I love L’Imprimerie, but I’m sorry to say I haven’t been there for a while.

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