DELICIOUS is a project that’s working on some of the most important aspects for children and adolescents: education, nutrition, good health and the global care that the social environment has to provide.
And the schools have a key role in this process, as children and adolescents spend easily one third of their day there and, in the Mediterranean countries, over half of them have their lunch in the school.
According to the “School Meal Programs around the world” report with the Results from the 2021 Global Survey of School Meal Programs, by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, almost 93% of the 183 school meal programs reported an objective to meet the nutritional and/or health needs of students. Meanwhile, just 35% of programs reported a goal to prevent or mitigate obesity, with programs in high-income countries (70%) far more likely to incorporate this focus than those in lower middle-income (16%) or low-income countries (5%). The potential for school meal programs to be employed as a strategy to combat obesity is evidently less recognized in lower-income settings where concerns of undernutrition remain salient, even as rates of obesity are rising. At the same time, programs in lower-income settings were more likely to report an objective to meet agricultural goals, likely reflecting the significant role of agriculture in less industrialized economies.
DELICIOUS makes a direct impact in the canteens and the menus, but also in the education of the children and adolescents so that they can choose a better and healthier diet and integrate physical activities in their everyday routine. The solution that this project is encouraging is to reinforce the Med lifestyle (diet, physical activity, socio-cultural heritage) in the Med societies through an integrated approach, combining technological and educational aspects, that will empower consumers to make more sustainable and healthier food choices in line with the MD. The project is organized in 7 case studies, implemented in schools from 5 countries, chosen due to their high prevalence in paediatric obesity and representatives of different Med geographical áreas. The participating schools present different socioeconomic contexts and include rural and urban environments.
Now that we are in the second year of DELICIOUS, the project is moving on and all the partners are working hard. The first database of survey information and the report on the current status of MD lifestyle have been done. The Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) methodology definition has been finished and the analysis of the ingredients has started. The new recipes and ingredients database is set and the reformulation is progressing. At the same time, the design of school-based Physical Activity (PA) intervention programs are ready and the children and adolescents will do it in the next 2023-2024 school year. The integrative database is ready and the digital platform is being designed for the best use of families and teachers. The editorial material is being translated to the different languages and the books will be printed so that they will be ready to be used in september this year, in the next school year. The games prototypes are being prepared, based o the editorial material.
All the schools have been visited and everyone at the consortia is involved and motivated to continue this exciting job.