Changing children's eating behaviour

Electronic versions


  • Mariel Marcano-Olivier

    Research areas

  • PhD, School of Psychology


Poor childhood nutrition is a global phenomenon, contributing to obesity and the development of non-communicable diseases. The present thesis explores methods of improving child nutritional intake in a school setting. Here, we present four papers:
• A methodological paper, describing the validation of a newly designed method of collecting nutritional data in a canteen setting. We find that it is possible to accurately estimate nutritional intake in a fast-paced free-living environment using digital photography;
• An evaluation paper, exploring the impact of a school-based multicomponent
intervention, the Food Dudes programme, on lunchtime nutritional composition.
Results indicate that participation in the Food Dudes programme is associated with an increase in the consumption of fruit and vegetables, and a decrease in consumption of unhealthy food items;
• A systematic review, describing those studies in the literature focussed on improving children’s eating behaviour through behavioural nudging. We report that, though many studies are successful, few studies use validated and reliable data collection methodologies, rendering results inconclusive;
• An experimental pilot study, exploring the influence of behavioural nudges on the fruit and vegetable consumption of primary school children. Significant
improvements in fruit, vitamin C, and fibre consumption were observed following a simple behavioural nudge intervention.
The results presented in this thesis contribute to the literature investigating methods to measure, and promote childhood nutrition, and have implications for promoting research best-practice, and policy targeting poor childhood nutrition.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Thesis sponsors
  • Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS)
Award date10 Oct 2018