Modifying eating attitudes and actions through learning
Unhealthy nutrition habits are an important health problem. In Europe, the main risk factors for premature death are related to eating and drinking habits and physical inactivity.
Numbers of obese people have tripled over the last 20 years. Furthermore, poor nutrition and inadequate eating habits are a crucial risk factor in developing eating disorders (ED), which are alarmingly increasing every year. Nutrition is also related to many common health diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.).
Healthy eating habits are particularly important for children and adolescents because of their influence on wellbeing, growth and development. Childhood overweight is related to academic underachievement, social isolation and lowered self-esteem, but it is also related to ED vulnerability and obesity in adulthood because eating habits are established early in the life cycle and tend to carry through the whole life.
For these reasons, Nutritional Education (NE) should be teached at school, but the academic curricula of “Primary School Education” and “Nutrition and Dietetics” in Europe do not include contents and competencies on how to teach healthy eating behaviour in children.
The objective of MEAL is to develop a pedagogical tool aimed at helping teachers and nutritionists (students and professionals) to acquire, train, promote and deliver basic Nutritional Education (NE) and healthy eating behaviour competencies to children.
In comparison to previous projects, MEAL will approach eating behaviours not only in nutritional literacy sense, but also using ICT elements such as “Serious Games” platforms to consolidate the nutritional competencies and habits through an engaging experience for the children.
The model will be supported by new technologies, allowing better and more attractive ways of learning for both professionals and children. Following these principles, the project will develop a software application supported a serious game to help to overcome existing obstacles in teaching NE to children.