We were delighted to welcome back Food Dudes to our school this year. We are well aware that you know the challenges facing the children in your school and their health and wellbeing. 1 in 4 children in Ireland are overweight or obese. Based on the current landscape, it is important that Food Dudes works with the whole school community to help children adopt lifelong healthy habits.
Recent surveys suggest children are consuming way significantly less fruit and veg than is recommended by National guidelines. Food Dudes aims to develop behaviours and attitudes in children from an early age to encourage more F&V and give them an opportunity to develop a liking to these foods. Childhood obesity negatively impacts children in school and the home (poor concentration and focus, low energy levels).
To establish those habits and bring about that proven behaviour change, Food Dudes is structured in two phases; the intervention phases followed by the maintenance stage – which you may be familiar with from a few years ago. To recap, the intervention phase is all about the behaviour change itself, whereas maintenance phase is about embedding and reinforcing healthy habits. This February we began the maintenance phase.
The key principles of the intervention include an extrinsic reward to get over the initial taste barrier of new F&V; repeated cycle of F&V to help children to realise that children CAN learn to like the taste and texture of a F/V; and critically, role models all around them to normalise F&V eating (DVDs, peers, teachers, siblings, etc.)
We hope the children will continue to try new F&V in the future.