Defence Minister Michalis Giorgallas said on Friday that soldiers should “realise the importance” of a healthy diet.

Giorgallas’ speech on the matter was read by his ministry’s Director General Andreas Loukas at a conference entitled “Anthropometric measurements and dietary habits of the Cypriot army”.

He said conscripted men should “realise the importance of the variety of foods in the diet and to be aware of modern nutritional problems, such as fast food and ready meals, with the ultimate aim of acquiring correct eating habits, which will stand them in good stead for the future.”

He added that “to avoid unwanted situations and to contribute in turn to the general need for a healthy society, we decided to place high importance on the inclusion of healthy nutrition in the daily life of our soldiers.”

This was done, he said, in combination with the provision of relevant information and encouragement to “avoid easy and unhealthy solutions” and “the establishment of physical exercise in the training program of National Guard units.”

He went on to speak of the decision taken in October 2018 to provide ready-made food to National Guard camps in the Nicosia and Larnaca districts, saying that five years on from the implementation of the programme, plans are afoot to expand it to the Famagusta district.

He said the programme has “benefited the National Guard in two ways, since a large number of people who were previously required to work preparing food are now released to undertake other tasks, and the quality and variety of food on offer has also been increased.”

With this in mind, he pointed to the memorandum of understanding signed between the Defence ministry and the association of dieticians and nutritionists in 2019, which was extended in 2022.

The cooperation foreseen by the memorandum, he said, “contributes significantly in terms of improving the quality and nutritional value of the National Guard’s food, and in the cultivation of good eating habits among military personnel.”