‘Food Dudes’ Professor Appointed European Expert

Professor Fergus Lowe, who leads the successful Food Dudes healthy eating programme at Bangor University, has been appointed a permanent member of the European Commission Group of Experts who provide technical advice on the Commission’s School Fruit Scheme.

This EU-wide voluntary scheme provides school children with fruit and vegetables, and aims to encourage good eating habits in young people. Besides providing fruit and vegetables, the scheme also requires participating Member States to set up strategies including educational and awareness-raising initiatives.

At its launch in 2008, the European Commission Scheme recognised the success of the Bangor Food Dudes programme and recommended it as a model that European countries could adopt.

The highly successful Food Dudes programme encourages healthy eating choices in young children and their families. Research has shown that the improvements in children's food choices that it brings about are very substantial and long-term.

The Food Dudes programme is internationally used. It is currently, for example, being rolled out to every primary school in Ireland. It has won numerous awards including, among others, the World Health Organisation Award for its application in Ireland, and the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Gold Medal Award for its use by Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust. 

Most recently, researchers Professors Fergus Lowe and Pauline Horne of the University’s School of Psychology were given the Scientific Translation Award from the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Analysis at the latter's Annual Convention in the USA.

 “One of the main factors responsible for the obesity epidemic is the change in children's diets, particularly their declining consumption of fruit and vegetables. For their health's sake, it is crucial they eat more fruit and vegetables and less energy dense foods, high in sugar and fat. That’s why I’m delighted to be able to contribute to this European Commission Group of Experts,” commented Professor Lowe.

“Applying behavioural principles is key to improving children’s eating habits and to providing a model of healthy eating for them to follow through their lifetime,” he added.

The Food Dudes scheme, which is designed for primary schools, uses four healthy eating cartoon characters - the Food Dudes -  and a range of other behaviour change procedures, to help children develop a liking for fruit and vegetables and be proud that they are healthy eaters.

Publication date: 19 December 2011