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Encouraging Healthy Eating in Children with the Food Dudes Programme

Food Dudes help children to eat more healthily

An award-winning programme devised by Bangor University’s Food and Activity Research Unit produces lasting increases in children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables. The Food Dudes are four fictional characters, who happily eat fruit and vegetables, “the source of special energy they need to defeat the forces of evil”.

The research led by Professors Lowe and Horne found that Reward and Role-Modelling behaviour change principles achieve significant success.  After the programme was adopted across all Primary Schools in Ireland, for example, children were eating 90% more fruit and vegetables.

Traditional nutritional interventions have tended to inform children about the benefits of  eating more fruit and vegetables, an approach that has failed to produce any lasting impact.  However, the Food Dudes behaviour-change approach, which has been conducted with more 700,000 children worldwide, has not only brought about a substantial increase in children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables, but also a 30% decrease in children’s consumption of calorie-dense snacks, in UK regional rollout areas. There has also been a positive effect on parental eating habits, which has led Prue Leith, Chair of the School Food Trust, to describe the project as “one of the most exciting things going on in the food world, which could completely transform the way Britons eat.”

Food Dudes Health Limited was established as a Social Enterprise in 2012 to develop a range of behaviour change programmes  that will combat childhood obesity and  improve children’s health and wellbeing globally.

“This is an excellent example of how our promotion efforts can make a real difference to the long-term health of our citizens.” Mariann Fischer Boel, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development

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