Food Dudes to rescue children from General Junk

Professor Lowe adressing the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers' Annual Livery Banquet recently.Professor Lowe adressing the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers' Annual Livery Banquet recently.At The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers’ Annual Livery Banquet held at the Mansion House in London on Thursday 17th February 2011, Professor Fergus Lowe, co-director of Bangor University’s successful Food Dudes Programme, addressed a distinguished array of guests who included the Lord Mayor of the City of London and the Sheriffs, the New Zealand High Commissioner,  the Dean of Canterbury, four Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Commissioner of the City London Police, senior representatives of the legal profession, Masters of four other livery companies as well as leaders of the fruit industry.

In his address as Guest of Honour, Professor Lowe discussed obesity — the biggest health problem of our times, and how techniques developed by behavioural psychologists can be used to change people’s behaviour in a positive and beneficial way.  

The Programme, which is run in primary schools, uses four healthy eating cartoon characters - the Food Dudes – and rewards to encourage children to develop a liking for fruit and vegetables, to encourage them to eat these foods at school and at home, and to be proud that they are healthy eaters. 

Not only is the Programme enjoyable for children, parents, and teachers, it also brings about major and long lasting increases in children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables, and improvements in the eating habits of parents themselves.

Fergus Lowe told the gathered audience that; “This really is a hugely effective programme that has a major impact on health and well-being. It has the capacity to save huge costs for the NHS and to avoid misery for children and their families. It is the only intervention we know of in this area that works, despite huge sums of government money having been expended over the years on a whole slew of other initiatives that have proved ineffective in denting the obesity epidemic.”

Professor Lowe concluded his speech by thanking the Fruiterers' Company for providing three years’ funding for a national co-ordinator to roll out the programme in the UK and, in particular, Past Master Sibley and Renter Warden Professor Price for their time and expertise.

To date, the Programme has been taken up in all Irish primary schools and has won a World Health Organisation award for its success in overcoming obesity. The scheme has also been rolled out to all schools in Wolverhampton and last year won the Chief Medical Officer’s Gold Medal Award. The team hope that the Food Dudes will be rolled out further across England and Wales and in other countries over coming years.

There are programmes running in schools in Italy and the United States.

Publication date: 22 February 2011