Catering for change: our plans for a new research project

I agree with a lot of what is currently being said about the growing problem of childhood obesity and its implications for the future health of our nation. But I don’t think we will start to tackle it in any kind of meaningful way without a much clearer and more detailed understanding of the main issues involved.

As school caterers, we’re in a great position to develop this ‘ground level’ view in more detail. Over the past few months we have been talking to various academics to try and scope out some new research across a range of schools.

Childhood obesity is a complex issue, and there are many factors at work. One of the keys for me, is to develop a clearer picture of children’s eating habits, as well as how and why these change as young people grow older. Once we understand these better, we can do more to help mitigate unhealthy eating patterns and habits.

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve been involved in something like this. Many years ago, when I was working for a major national school catering company, I organised for students to keep food diaries for a fortnight. The results we got from this study were interesting. Among other things it showed us just how much of a negative influence modern lifestyles can have on healthy eating. It would be very interesting to see how this has developed even further in the intervening years.

Any school caterer will tell you that students’ eating choices at school change as they move toward the senior years. Why is this? Once again, I think wider society has a bearing on it all. As educational partners we’re already doing a lot to help young people retain healthy eating habits as they prepare for the next phase of their lives at university, college or in employment. The information we get from a new study will not only help us in our work, it will also provide valuable information that we can share with our industry as a whole and help support the new food standards.

We’re planning to get this project underway in few months, and we will be sharing updates on here. If you’re interested in finding out more about these plans, please contact us at any time or message us on Twitter: @cucina_kitchen

Till next time,

Steve

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