Monday, November 10, 2014

The Food Dudes: Combatting Childhood Obesity

Food Dudes Health, a Social Enterprise working in partnership with Bangor University, have developed the Food Dudes Healthy Eating Programme, an evidence-based behaviour change intervention, that produces large and lasting increases in the amount of fruit and vegetables children eat. The core psychological principles of the Programme are Role-Modelling, Rewards, and Repeated Tastings. All primary school children in Ireland have taken part in the Food Dudes programme, and it is also being rolled out regionally across primary schools in the UK. However, child obesity begins well before children start primary school. To try to make a difference even earlier, a KESS-funded project has now helped develop a Food Dudes programme for nursery-aged children. Led by KESS scholar Catherine Sharp, and supervised by Prof. Pauline Horne and Dr. Mihela Erjavec, the project measured the impact of the nursery programme in a six-school controlled evaluation. To encourage the toddlers to eat a range of provided fruit and vegetables, they first watched a role-modelling video showing young versions of the Food Dudes characters, Rocco, Razz, Tom, and Charlie, who love eating fruit and vegetables because they provide "special energy" for fun and play. When the toddlers then ate the fruit and vegetables provided each day, they were given small, Food Dudes customised rewards. The children who took part in the Programme began to eat a lot more fruit and vegetable. more

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