Recent findings from the National Childhood Measurement Programme (NCMP) report increased childhood obesity levels. Identifying solutions to decrease childhood obesity and improve children’s dietary behaviour remains a priority.
The potential role of school food to improve children’s diets is documented in the Childhood Obesity: A Plan for Action (Chapter 2) and National Food Strategy, however, modifying the school food system is complex, with challenges at macro- (policy, procurement), meso (cultural norms) and micro-levels (food/drink choices). Furthermore, complexities exist in evaluation methods and identifying evidenced-based solutions.
There is a growing network of stakeholders (academic and non-academic) engaged in school food systems developed from a MRC UKPRP funded network (Generating Excellent Nutrition in UK Schools (GENIUS)). Current network members include active UK researchers in school food. This SIG will develop prior GENIUS networks and has a multi-disciplinary focus.
Aims and Objectives:
- Provide a platform for stakeholders from academia, third sector, and practice and policy to share expertise, discuss challenges and gaps, and develop the evidence-base of potential opportunities to improve the school food system.
To engage Nutrition Society members in this topical and central component of the food environment that is an important driver of children’s dietary behaviour using a systems approach.
To facilitate (through the use of online and in-person sessions) further collaborations that already exist between academics, and practice and policy partners through the establishment of the GENIUS network.
To provide a platform to disseminate knowledge, identify novel methods and influence practice through evidenced-based school food research.
To understand the range of work in school food systems across the four UK nations and internationally.
To develop areas for collaborative research grant applications on topics relevant to the school food system.
Dr Suzanne Spence, University Research Fellow, Newcastle University
Area of Interest: School-based policy and interventions to improve children & young people’s diets, inequalities, evaluation