A Bournemouth University (BU) graduate is creating an education toolkit of evidence-based resources to support children in making healthy life choices.
Claire King, a former headteacher, noticed the link between food and mood during her career in teaching and studied a master’s degree in nutrition and behaviour at BU to further her understanding. This has led to the creation of her company – The Nutrition Advisory Team, and the development Nutri-Kit, a toolkit to understand how choices and behaviours can contribute to overall health.
The toolkit has been developed with the purpose of building competencies, knowledge and confidence in young people so that their choices and behaviours are informed, allowing them to take greater responsibility for their own health, with the resources linked to the National Curriculum.
Claire said, “I have always wanted to influence children’s lives for the positive, and in my role as headteacher, I observed a real link between the food children were eating, and the times of day that their behaviour changed. This fascinated me and led me on a journey to understand the link between food and mood.”
During her time at BU, Claire developed a business plan for creating nutrition education resources for schools and children to make informed choices about what to eat, and the sorts of foods that would give children energy, without causing peaks and drops in blood sugar levels, which could cause a change in mood.
Claire explained, “Children are experts in their own lives and make decisions based on the information and experience they gain. Our aim is to offer a wide range of research and encourage them to challenge it and use it in a way that helps them to think critically about consumption and the choices they could make to support their own health. We want children to live better for longer.”
This has resulted in the creation of a toolkit, focussing on giving lessons, sharing infographics, video and animation content and even recipe ideas. The toolkit is for use anywhere where children are in an education setting, and the information could have wider implications for adults too.
Claire continued, “The food we eat can and does have an impact on our energy levels and mood throughout the day, understanding the impact this can have on children in education settings can help deal with behaviour issues, and increase concentration and energy in children. It can also help our children to understand more about healthy eating and make informed choices about the sorts of food they are eating. Nutri-Kit includes take home recipes for children to make with or for their families, based on affordable, seasonal nutrient dense ingredients.”
Alongside her study at BU, Claire took part in the University of Nottingham’s Ingenuity Lab, a nine-month course to develop business plans. The Nutrition Advisory Team won three awards: the Brenda Dean Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2021) as well as the South Coast Champion (2021) and Shakespeare Martineau Legal Prize.
Bournemouth University and the Food Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham continue to support Claire, sharing resources and research to help support the creation of the toolkit. Nutri-Kit®, now in a pilot phase, is being trialled in 30 schools in Nottingham.
Ian Jones, Head of External Engagement at Bournemouth University, supported the work. He said, “We are proud to provide support and guidance to BU students and graduates who are looking to develop their own ideas and I am delighted to support Claire in developing her animation. We look forward to hearing more about the impact on children across the Bournemouth area when the resources reach local schools.”
A secondary pilot phase is due to take place in Bournemouth in Spring 2024 with space for 30 schools. For more information, or to register your interest in taking part in the pilot, email [email protected].
For more information about the Nutrition Advisory Team, visit https://thenat.co.uk.