Researchers try something fishy to improve nursery children’s diets
Senior researchers at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh are currently working with nursery children in East Lothian to improve their diets.
The University’s experts in nutrition are collaborating with Olivebank Nursery in Musselburgh to encourage children to eat more oily fish as part of a balanced diet.
The work is being supported with a grant from the Organix Foundation, a charity which funds research projects that help develop understanding of the links between food quality and children’s health.
Dr Sandra Drummond, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dr Jane McKenzie, Senior Lecturer in Human Biology are aware that nursery aged children in Scotland have very low intakes of oily fish - the key dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for normal child development during this critical age.
Dr Drummond explained: “As a nation, the Scots are not consuming the recommended intake of oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna, and young children’s intakes are particularly low. Optimising intake of Omega 3 fats will help children to reach their full potential and improve their long term health.”
The research team aim to encourage children to become more aware of fish – where it comes from, what it tastes like, and how they can incorporate fishy snacks into their every day diet.
Nursery staff are working closely with Elina Scheers Andersson, part of the research team, to promote a range of fun and interesting activities. A visit to the local fishmonger will introduce children to different types of fish. There will also be the opportunity for hands on food preparation sessions such as making tasty snacks from fish they’ve bought from the shop.
The research will evaluate the effect of this intervention on the children’s diet, in particular, increased intake of omega 3 fats.
Dr Drummond concluded:” This research can impact positively in many ways. Taste preferences are learned at an early age. If children are given the opportunity to develop a liking for oily fish at a young age, this preference can persist throughout their life. By developing an awareness and liking for oily fish, young children may be able to influence the food choice of the whole family.”
Professor Petra Wend, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said: ”This project is an excellent example of the relevance of Queen Margaret University research work and ensures that academic knowledge is being applied to a real life community setting. The work fits well with Queen Margaret’s philosophy of improving quality of life and allows us to have a positive impact on the health of our younger members of society.”
Notes to editor
- The research will run over a three month period – from July to September 2010.
- The research has received funding of £5,000 from The Organix Foundation.
- The data collection will be carried out by Queen Margaret University nutrition graduate (First Class Hons) Elina Scheers Andersson, who evaluated a similar initiative at Greengables Nursery in Craigmillar for her Honours Project.
For further media information please contact Lynne Russell, Press and PR Officer, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, tel: 0131 474 0000, mob: 07711 011239, Email: