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Society funds event on the psychology behind children’s eating habits

24 April 2018

Leading psychologists are gathering at Staffordshire University today to help understand what influences children’s relationship with food.

‘Psychological Perspectives of Healthy Eating in Children’ is funded by the British Psychological Society and will showcase research from psychologists across the UK and France.

Experts will share research on topics ranging from picky eaters to portion size in a bid to shed light on what affects children’s eating habits.

Other factors affecting children’s diets such as growing deprivation, the increased use of foodbanks and the use of apps to encourage children to eat more vegetables will also be under discussion.

Dr Rachel Povey, Associate Professor in Health Psychology at Staffordshire University, has organised the event. She explains:

“Healthy eating is such a topical and important issue and it’s something that I’m really passionate about. With rising child obesity rates there is a lot of discussion around how to improve children’s diets from pre-school through to the teenage years.”

Research by Dr Povey and colleagues has found that schoolchildren are afraid of being teased for eating healthy foods like fruit and vegetables. She believes that changing the perception of such foods is key to improving diets.

“You get so much advertising for snacks and unhealthy foods but you never get any for fruit or vegetables! We have worked with schoolchildren to design adverts for fruit and veg and found that it helps to create a positive relationship with healthy foods."

Dr Povey also thinks that encouraging families to use meal plans, swap snacks and make fruit and vegetables freely available in the home are all effective steps to improving what we eat.

“If you put a plan in place to eat a healthy diet – the how, the where, the when - then you are more like to do it. Simple changes like allowing children to freely snack on fruit but making unhealthy snacks less accessible also really help."

The seminar is the first of three British Psychological Society funded events being run by Dr Povey in partnership with Professor Jackie Blissett and Dr Claire Farrow from Aston University.

It is funded by the Society’s Research Seminar Competition, which provides grants to enable institutions to cooperate to hold scientific seminars. The call for applications for the 2018 round of the competition is open until on 28 June 2018.

Click here to read more about the Research Seminar Competition, including details of how to make an application.

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