Nutrition Education and Childhood Obesity Prevention
  • Portland Square Building

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The Institute of Health and Community and the British Dietetic Association (South West Branch) are pleased to present this research showcase focusing on nutrition education and childhood obesity prevention.


Portland Square Building locations: Atria A - refreshments | Devonport Lecture Theatre - presentations

17:30-18:30 - Registration, networking and refreshments (buffet supper and drinks)

18:30-19:00 - BDA South West Branch AGM: Dr Fiona Lithander, BDA South West Branch Chair

19:00-19:05 - Introduction: Dr Fiona Lithander

19:05-19:45 - Sylvia Escott-Stump, Food Master: Reach to Teach

19:45-20:25 - Dr Julie Lanigan, Preventing childhood obesity: the TrimTots story

20:25-20:30 - Closing remarks: Professor Mary Hickson, Lead for Dietetic, Human Nutrition and Health Research Group, and Deputy Director of the Institute of Health and Community

Registration for this event is now open. Please contact for any queries.

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Today's events

Abstract - FoodMASTER: Reach to Teach

Sylvia Escott-Stump, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Dietetic Internships, East Carolina University

Academic success in math and science is a foundational component for success in life. FoodMASTER stands for the 'Food, Math And Science Teaching Enhancement Resource' Initiative: a compilation of programmes that use food as a tool to teach mathematics and science. This grant is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) at the National Institutes of Health.

FoodMASTER: Reach to Teach provides participants with an overview of STEM Education and introduces the FoodMASTER Initiative. Participants will engage in an activity and receive information about free curricular resources. Participants will also learn how they can begin to make a difference by teaching others how to use food as a tool for conveying basic mathematics and science concepts.

This session identifies how dietitians can provide professional development for teachers. The program aims to promote strong teacher influence, guide children and teens in science aptitude, and increase the pipeline of students entering the science professions, especially minorities and women. There is no better 'science-teacher champion' than a dietitian-nutritionist!

Abstract - Prevention of Obesity in Preschool Children

Julie Lanigan, Childhood Nutrition Research, UCL GOS Institute of Child Health, London

In England almost 1 in 4 children starts school already overweight or obese (1). This is a problem because once established obesity is very hard to reverse and many children will remain overweight in later childhood and adult life (2). In the short term overweight children are at increased risk of potentially serious conditions such as sleep apnea and asthma. Overweight in adult life is strongly associated with adverse health outcomes including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and certain cancers. Therefore, obesity and associated co-morbidities have serious short and long-term implications for health. 

The causes of obesity are complex and multi-factorial. Although 70% of the predisposition towards obesity can be explained by genetic factors, environmental influences also play a crucial role (3). In particular lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity are influential in its development. The preschool period is a pivotal time when long-term dietary and physical activity habits are established with potential lifelong effects on health. Interventions that aim to improve diet, increase physical activity and achieve behavioural change are urgently sought to help prevent childhood obesity and should begin in early life.

With this in mind we developed TrimTots – a multi-component healthy lifestyle programme that aims to lower the risk of obesity in preschool children by encouraging healthier lifestyles in parents and other family members through small behavioural changes. TrimTots was evaluated in two randomised controlled trials. The first trial tested the intervention in a high risk population, already overweight or at increased risk and a second trial was carried out in the general preschool population. Results were encouraging – TrimTots was successful at lowering obesity risk and improving health outcomes. Findings were published in abstract form in the Lancet medical journal (4). The future aim is to evaluate TrimTots further in a cluster RCT to assess feasibility and efficacy in a larger population.

Delivering and evaluating complex interventions for obesity prevention is a challenge for clinicians and researchers. Interventions based on theoretical frameworks that include behaviour change strategies are the most likely to succeed (5) . Interactive programmes in group settings are effective in engaging families (6). Programmes should be tailored to meet the needs of families and children. Evaluation in rigorous studies including long-term follow up is essential to assess immediate and sustained effects of interventions.


1. National Child Measurement Programme - England, 2016-17. (Accessed October 2017).

2. Simmonds M, Llewellyn A, Owen CG et al. (2016) Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev 17, 95-107.

3. Sheikh AB, Nasrullah A, Haq S et al. (2017) The Interplay of Genetics and Environmental Factors in the Development of Obesity. Cureus 9, e1435.

4. Lanigan J, Collins S, Birbara T et al. (2013) The TrimTots programme for prevention and treatment of obesity in preschool children: evidence from two randomised controlled trials. Lancet 382 Suppl. 58.

5. Ling J, Robbins LB, Wen F et al. (2017) Lifestyle Interventions in Preschool Children: A Meta-analysis of Effectiveness. Am J Prev Med 53, 102-12.

6. Kelleher E, Davoren MP, Harrington JM et al. (2017) Barriers and facilitators to initial and continued attendance at community-based lifestyle programmes among families of overweight and obese children: a systematic review. Obes Rev 18, 183-94.

Biography: Sylvia Escott-Stump MA RDN LDN FAND

Sylvia is Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of Dietetic Internships at East Carolina University. She has authored eight editions of Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care; five editions of Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process; and two editions of Nutritional Foundations and Clinical Applications: A Nursing Approach

She has served on the Board of the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations. At the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she served as President; Speaker of the House; Chair of the Standardized Language task force, Nutrition Educators and Preceptors Council, and the Clinical Nutrition Management practice group. Her honours include the Academy’s Medallion Award, Fellow of the Academy, Lenna Frances Cooper Lecturer, Outstanding Dietitian from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an honorary doctorate.

Biography: Dr Julie Lanigan RD PhD MBDA

Julie is a paediatric dietitian specialising in research at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London. She is a key investigator on a range of clinical trials which focus on the influence of nutrition in early life on later health. She is co-founder and Director of TrimTots Community Interest Company and runs the Planet Munch Programme for obesity prevention in preschool children.

Julie holds an honorary contract with Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. She is Chair for the British Dietetic Association’s Paediatric Specialist Group, has a wide range of knowledge and experience gained from more than 20 years working with families and practitioners in the field of paediatric nutrition and presents and publishes regularly in this area.

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