Health Pedagogy and Narrative-based Strategies to Promote Healthy Eating Behaviours and Prevent Obesity in Schoolchildren: an Experimental Protocol Designed in Salento


Abstract


Overweight and obesity in paediatric population are becoming serious public health problems, reaching epidemic proportions in the world and being recognized as the "new pandemic of the twenty first century". Food choices and nutritional habits are strictly linked to the cultural dimension of communities and symbolic representations of food. Even in Italy, young generations are moving away from the culture of Mediterranean Diet (MD) – recognized as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO – being at risk of losing both their identity and the health benefits associated with MD. In this frame, health pedagogy (i.e. nutritional education) can play a fundamental role in promoting the adoption of healthy eating behaviours since childhood, addressing at the same time such crucial binomials as food-health and environment-sustainability. In the last decades, a huge variety of school-based obesity prevention programs have been introduced. Among those, according to scientific evidence, narrative-based strategies may be helpful in promoting healthy nutritional habits among schoolchildren. Actually, narration is a useful tool in didactic practice, impacting on the emotional and motivational dimension of learning, thus represent-ing a valuable vehicle of health contents. On these bases, as DREAM Laboratory of Health Pedagogy, we have proposed to the Department of Prevention of the Local Health Authority ASL Lecce – specifically involving the Food Hygiene and Nutrition Service (SIAN) – to implement a research protocol aimed at assessing if narrative-based strategies could be more effective than other educational approaches in promoting the adoption of healthy eating behaviours among schoolchildren.

Keywords: health pedagogy; food habits; schoolchildren; narrative pedagogy; storytelling

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