In the spirit of the commencement of the New Year, I thought it the perfect timing to write a second Fuse blog post reflecting on my first year of PhD study. Also, driven by my waking at 2am, Monday of the first week back in a cold sweat, realising I am more baffled than ever!
In my first blog post, I described myself as feeling at the bottom of a mountain…
So far, I have completed a systematic review, had a paper of the political timeline of food policy published in the Nutrition Bulletin, shared my research in a conference, and was boosted by an article I contributed to the conversation.com being shared in the Independent online.
What have I learned?
I left secondary school teaching in July 2018 with a strong sense that more was needed to improve adolescent nutrition. Today, with more of a grasp on the research, I am even more incredulous as to why more is not being done by policymakers.
The evidence is clear, teenagers have the poorest diets of any other age group in the UK. The Lancet commission stated we can reap huge benefits from improved health policies, focusing on the global adolescent population, after all they are our future parents and workforce. As I found in the political timeline research and systematic review, there are many examples of good practice with regards to implementing and evaluation of school food standards, whole school policy and health interventions. But still no priority being placed on consistent evaluation and of policing school food provision in England.
Waking up at 2am questions
- Why is our school food provision failing to improve adolescent nutrition?
- Why does the Childhood obesity strategy (part 2) make the assumption that all schools in England are following the national school food standards when there is no evidence that most schools are? #pizzaandcookies.
- Why the inertia and lack of prioritising teen diets, when the evidence points to the impacts of diet on mental health and school performance?
One of the factors I want to focus in on over the next two years, is the social aspect of teen diets. It is becoming more and more an accepted ‘norm’ that teenagers have a poor diet, and food choice is a major factor in fitting in with peers, with healthy food choices often ridiculed. A low risk perception of unhealthful food choice seems to be a barrier in improving the health of the next generation. I wonder how we can flip this influence.
With all the reflecting done, I am ready to move forward into 2020. This year the plan is to see my systematic review published, to plan and conduct research in building a picture of experiences, views and what is happening in a range of schools in the North East. And with this public declaration I aim to keep momentum and to contribute to the body of research moving forward.
Keep believing and achieving.
"Junk fast Food illustrations infographics editorial" by Svajune Garnyte is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0