MEAL

Modifying Eating Attitudes and Actions through Learning

Background

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 (E.C., 2007). Numbers of obese people have tripled over the last 20 years (Hyde, 2008). Furthermore, poor nutrition and inadequate eating habits are a crucial risk factor in developing eating disorders (ED) (Krug et al., 2012), which are alarmingly increasing every year (Preti et al., 2009). Nutrition is also related to many common European 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 (Weichselbaum&Buttriss, 2011). 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. Furthermore, eating habits are established early in the life cycle and tend to carry through to adulthood. Literature review also points out that teachers should be trained in nutrition education (NE) but the academic curricula of “Primary School Education” and “Nutrition and Dietetics” do not include contents and competencies on how to teach healthy eating behaviour in children.

 

Aims and target groups

The objective of MEAL is to develop a pedagogical tool aimed at helping teachers and nutritionists (students and professionals alike) to acquire, train, promote and deliver basic NE and healthy eating behaviour competencies to children. In comparison to previous projects, MEAL is focused on eating behaviours not only in nutritional literacy sense, and will use ICT elements, such as “Serious Games” platforms to consolidate the nutritional competencies and habits.

MEAL offers specific training methodology for teachers and nutritionists to train these competences. Moreover, it offers a tool to facilitate teaching of nutritional strategies in both schools and in other nutritional settings. The tool will be based on Contento’s (2008) nutritional educational model, and supported by ICT, allowing the “learning by doing” perspective where users not only learn specific knowledge but also train skills and learn competencies in order to move from knowledge into action. The project is supported by ICT and will contain a web tool for students and professionals and a Serious Game for children aimed at supporting, assessing, practicing and implementing the competencies and principles learned during the lessons.

The project shall explore how learning can be enhanced through ICT, integrating a pedagogical framework and a technology-enhanced platform with different ICT tools for different target groups, namely:

  • Students of Education and Nutrition-related degrees
  • Professionals (teachers and nutritionists) and
  • Children

 

Partners and Outcomes

The consortium is composed of 5 partners from 4 European countries: 2 Mediterranean countries (Italy and Spain) where youth obesity is a major public health problem; 1 northern country (Norway) and a central European country (Austria).

The project provides the following outcomes:

  • Training and Learning Modules within a
  • Web application Training Platform and a
  • User Manual
EU-Program: LLP, KA3 Multilateral projects
Coordination: EVERIS Spain S.L.U (Spain)
Contact: Karin Kronika
Duration: November 2013 – October 2015
Website: www.mealproject.eu
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.