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Dudes On A Mission August 2, 2007

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Psychology and Behavior.
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This video is a clip from the Food Dude program, which has been developed to get kids eating more fruits and vegetables. In this video, Charlie, Tom, Raz and Rocco are on a mission to protect everyone from General Junk, the evil miscreant who plans to steal fruits and vegetables to destroy the world.

The program was developed by psychologists at the University of Wales Bangor. In February, a pilot trial to test it out at 150 primary schools in Ireland was so successful that the government decided to extend it nationally to all children aged 4 to 11. In addition to the Food Dude video, the program works to get taste buds familiar with the food by having kids repeatedly eat fruits and vegetables. Kids also take home educational packs for their parents so that fruit and vegetable consumption can be monitored at home. On top of that, kids get cool pens, pencils and stickers as rewards for their efforts.

The Food Dude Program Is Working

I’ll admit that the video does seem a bit on the silly side but the evidence thus far shows that it works! The Food Dude program has performed better than other child-focused nutritional programs aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable intake. One of the challenges of any nutritional program is to create long-term changes. So, while some programs might initially get kids eating more fruits and vegetables, the change doesn’t last, and the kids soon fall back into their old bad habits.

Wow

With the Food Dude program trial, 90 percent of the kids are now eating one or more portions of fruit each day instead of none. Better still, 80 percent of the kids who participated in the study are eating at least one portion of vegetables each day. The trial indicated that these results lasted at least 18 months, which means that the changes are less likely to be temporary ones.

It’s Cheap

The Food Dude program costs £35 per child, which is approximately $70 Canadian or slightly above in United States dollars. Given the enormous costs related to treating diseases that are linked to low fruit and vegetable consumption, it’s actually a very cheap program. It also works at eating habits early on rather than later, when it can be more challenging to change behaviors related to diet and nutrition.

Bring It On

With diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease showing strong, clear links to poor intakes of fruits and vegetables, it’s really important to find ways to encourage people to make healthy changes. Obesity is an equally challenging concern and the addition of fruits and vegetables can really help with weight control. Given the success of the Food Dude program, I hope it makes its entrance into North American schools, and that it does so very quickly. Bring it on!

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