Encouraging positive connections with healthy food in a child’s early years and fostering a whole-family approach to improving diet has been well explored in nutritional psychology research. Less is known about the impact of the outdoors; and how foraging, preparing and eating food together in the outdoors can impact on parental approaches to food and on childhood eating patterns and food preferences. The present project, a collaboration between Coed Lleol and the Centre for Activity and Eating Research at Bangor University, will explore this issue.
Coed Lleol is a registered charity who, for the past ten years, have specialised providing woodland skills and activities for vulnerable adults to benefit their mental and physical wellbeing. They operate in nine locations across Wales. In 2019, Coed Lleol secured funding through the Healthy and Active Fund to deliver their ‘Actif Woods Wales’ programme to family groups. The organisation is keen to expand the nutrition element of their programme. It is hypothesised that outdoor activities may present an excellent context in which children and adults can change their eating habits and preferences for the better long term.
This research will aim to explore whether a brief multicomponent healthy eating intervention comprising modelling, storytelling, taste exposure, and food preparation in an outdoor setting, presented as a part of the ‘Actif Woods Wales’ programme to families with young children, would improve their knowledge of a healthy diet, willingness to taste new plant-based foods, and shopping habits. Moreover, we aim to test whether participating families would be willing to replace some of the convenience (ultra-processed) foods, which represent a majority of food purchases in the developed countries including the UK, with healthier less processed foods. Processed convenience foods are associated with poorer health outcomes but tend to be especially prevalent in the diets of families living in the areas of high multiple deprivation where the Actif Woods Programmes are located.
After a literature search, the KESS scholar will devise the materials, administer a controlled pilot intervention, and evaluate its effects. This research addresses key governmental concerns surrounding national health that are connected to poor diet choices leading to obesity, diabetes, poor mental health and other diet-related issues. It also links to the growing field of social forestry that explores how we can use green spaces more effectively to foster positive experiences for social, physical, mental and nutritional benefit.
Masters by Research
This Masters by Research project is expected to start on the 1st of June 2020 and take one year to complete. The KESS scholar will be based at the School of Psychology and jointly supervised by Dr Mihela Erjavec (Bangor University) & Dr Natasha Simons (Coed Lleol). The applicants should hold a good degree in Psychology or a related discipline, have demonstrably excellent research skills, and relevant experience.
For more information, or informal enquiries, please email Dr Erjavec.
To apply, please send your CV and a cover letter to [email protected]
and cc to Penny Dowdney ([email protected]
KESS 2 East is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for East Wales.
Due to ESF funding, eligibility restrictions apply to this scholarship. To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in East Wales on University registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.