Many children would benefit from a diet richer in vegetables and fruit ('FV'). Flavour School is a programme of ‘sensory food education’, which aims to increase children’s curiosity and confidence in exploring foods and flavours, especially FV. Children participate in fun sensory activities with food, learning about how their various senses contribute to their eating experiences, whilst familiarising and ‘making friends’ with FV. Children also learn conversation skills and vocabulary to describe and share their sensory experiences.
Nine Flavour School lessons plans are delivered approximately once-weekly over one school term, by school teachers following teacher training. This study will conduct a cluster-randomised controlled trial to assess the outcomes of the Flavour School programme in primary school children aged 4-7 years. 400+ children from 4+ schools will either complete the Flavour School programme (experimental group) or have no intervention with normal school teaching (control group), cluster-randomised within-schools, by school class.
Data collection will consist of individual video recordings of children participating in a FV tasting activity, before and after the Flavour School intervention. As proxy measures for 'curiosity and confidence', we will estimate children's enjoyment and engagement in the tasting activity via analysis of their facial expressions and conversation during the activity, and by examining how willing they are to taste FV during the activity.
Note: The OASES project has been severely disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic. The project restarted in September 2021, having paused in April 2020. Trial registration: ISRCTN: 40249947 Version: 1.2 updated 01/09/2021
Sensory food education is of increasing policy interest as a tool to open children's minds to a wider range of healthy foods, and hence facilitate desired shifts in the national diet and food culture. The recently published National Food Strategy: The Plan recommended sensory food education for all English early years settings. However, causal data regarding sensory food education outcomes remains scarce.
This study will provide causal data on the efficacy of a sensory food education intervention for increasing children’s confidence and curiosity in tasting FV, which will help educators and policy makers to make evidence based decisions on uptake of sensory food education. This project will also see hundreds of children benefitting from sensory food education, and many teachers benefitting from teacher training and delivery experience in sensory food education.
Grant agreement ID: 799965