Helping Children Develop Healthy Eating Habits

A national campaign to encourage parents to give healthier snacks to their children, “Start”, has been launched on the back of new UCD research funded by Safefood, part-led by the Newman Fellow in Food Safety Dr Christine Shan.

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Mentored by Professor Pat Wall & Professor Celine Murrin, Dr Shan is based in the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, which is at the cutting edge of research and research programmes.

Newman Fellow in Food Safety, Dr Christine Shan

Dr Shan, “Our research funded by Safefood has shown that, for today’s children, treat foods, which are dominated by unhealthy options, have become normalised into daily lives. Rewarding good behaviour and child’s requests are the two biggest triggers. We encourage parents, grandparents, childcare practitioners and nannies to try healthier options, and to make a treat as a ‘real’ treat. We are also calling out the industry to develop healthier treats.”




Safefood, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Government-led Healthy Ireland initiative have launched the new Start campaign to encourage parents to say no. It includes tips for parents on fighting the pressure to give children unhealthy foods which are lacking in nutrition. This advice also deals with social norms, the constant availability of treats, price promotions and routine treating.