Healthy diet during childhood and adolescence promotes optimal health, growth and cognitive development of the child and adolescent, and may contribute to the prevention of chronic disease in later life. However, surveys show that most European children and adolescents do not meet these guidelines. In fact, recent figures show alarming and increasing numbers of obese children and adolescents in Europe. Traditional communication initiatives (e.g. media campaign) aimed to improve children eating habits have very limited impact.
Therefore, there is a need to develop and implement effective approaches which could help to design programs and policies that will result in children and adolescents adopting healthier and environmental-friendly dietary habits. In most EU countries schools serve at least one meal every school day. Nutritional standards for school food, on their own, are not enough to catalyse positive dietary change. Pupils report dissatisfaction with many aspects of the school food environment relating to food quality, food taste, etc.
This activity aims to develop a network that links EIT Food with existing national schools’ programs in Europe and related stakeholders, ultimately to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and ensure effective translation of findings. The first-year activity will develop a portfolio of approaches that could be used within pre-schools and schools to improve eating habits and reduce food wastage, accompanied by network development and establishment of effective communication channels.
Present Activity will develop an EIT Food School Network, starting with initiatives in schools at all levels (pre-school, primary, secondary) considering all stakeholders (children, catering, government) to address some of these issues to attract children into the school canteen, encourage them to make the healthier choices and reduce food wastage. These initiatives will be based on three activities, with accompanying communication strategy: to explore methods and develop networks to positively influence food choice, to study the nutritional understanding and hedonic perception of school meals and to develop and to pilot new innovative tool focusing on children`s health behavior and stress response regulation.
This Activity supports the vision and visibility of EIT Food, collaborating in increasing trust in the food system, reducing food waste and improve nutrition of crucial consumers for EU, our children.
Learning the importance of healthy eating in a fun and entertaining way
AZTI has been working on activities for primary school children which are focused around an easy-to-use app: ¿Cómo como yo? which translates as ‘How do I eat?’. This fun, interactive web-based app has been developed to assess food perception, by asking children about healthy products, preferences, consumption and their willingness to try new products. Valuable information gained from this is being shared across the network and used to develop future activities and interventions.
AZTI, Grupo AN, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Helsinki, University of Reading, University of Warsaw
EIT Food – EU