Independent research finds innovative public/private partnership raises health awareness among child
Posted on 29th October 2014
Early findings from independent research conducted by Leeds Beckett University (formerly Leeds Metropolitan) suggest that health education programme PhunkyFoods is improving knowledge and making some positive changes to the behaviour of primary school children.
The results come the week after Public Health England published its seven priorities for the next five years, with tackling childhood obesity chief among them.
The study, funded by Nestlé UK, aimed to assess the effectiveness of the PhunkyFoods Programme, looking at how deliverable it is practically, the support it gains from teachers, pupils and parents, and what impact it has on the schools involved.
Headlines of the study's research findings will be shared at an event in the House of Commons this evening (28 October):
• Year 2 pupils (age 6-7) in schools delivering the programme had 2% higher physical activity knowledge scores than those in the control group
• Year 4 pupils (age 8-9) had 5% higher 'healthy balance' scores, based on knowledge of the Department of Health's Eatwell plate messages
• Year 4 pupils from schools delivering PhunkyFoods say they consume more water and fruit, and less fizzy drinks
• Year 2 pupils say they consume fewer fizzy drinks, chocolates, sweets, biscuits and cakes after the receiving the PhunkyFoods Programme
The PhunkyFoods Programme is a convenient, inspirational and fun way for teachers to deliver innovative healthy eating and physical activity lessons. It helps more than 1,500 schools and their teachers to:
• Meet healthy lifestyles curriculum requirements
• Support inspection frameworks
• Organise teaching to include more healthy lifestyles material
Sorrell Fearnall, managing director of Purely Nutrition, which delivers the PhunkyFoods Programme, said: "Nearly one in ten children are obese before they start school, and double that proportion are obese by the time they reach 11 years of age.
"The reintroduction of food and cooking on the English national curriculum in 2014 goes some way to improving nutritional intake for young pupils, however there is so much more that they could and should be learning about in terms of food and health.
"Our initial research findings demonstrate that by engaging with children and teaching them about healthy lifestyles through every aspect of the school, we can really make a difference to their attitudes and behaviours throughout their educational journey."
Professor Pinki Sahota, reader in childhood obesity at Leeds Beckett University, and leader of the research team, said: "PhunkyFoods represents one of the few evidence-informed multi-component programmes targeting both diet and physical activity available to primary schools with the potential to address the development of obesity, thereby supporting public health policy.
"Teachers value the training, the high quality, accessibility and flexibility of the resources. Pupils seem to particularly enjoy the more interactive activities such as tasting and cooking. The teacher training offered as part of the intervention contributes to capacity building and sustainability of the programme."
The PhunkyFoods Programme, supported by a public/private partnership, with funding from Nestlé UK and 2 Sisters Food Group, is showing its ability to help schools engage children in healthy eating and physical activity.
Posted on 29th October 2014