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In the spotlight: Teaching about healthy food together

The Gezond Onderweg (GO) project has been working for almost ten years to prevent obesity among children in Arnhem and the surrounding area. In 2021, GO was joined by OnePlanet, a research centre in which Radboud University is a partner. After more than a year of cooperation, both parties are enthusiastic. “Nothing but praise.”

Nutrition, relaxation and exercise: if you pay attention to these three things, you can reap great health benefits throughout your life. But that is easier said than done. To help children and young people (aged 0–19 years) live healthier lives in a systematic way, GO health coaches guide them for two years. “For each family, there are so many different things to consider. We always look at the resources that are available and which applications work. The extensive knowledge we have from the university and other educational institutions helps us enormously”, says Annejet Plaisier, a paediatrician affiliated with GO.

“The guest lectures by experts from outside the university were really cool”, recalls Rosan Stoekenbroek, one of the students involved last year. “They show you how many things are involved in tackling a social problem like this.” Stoekenbroek also learned to approach problems in a new way. “Normally we would start with the theory, but now we were challenged to be as creative as possible and to focus more on the specific needs of the people we spoke to.”

Rosan and her fellow students came up with an app that contains healthy recipes. “Kind of like Tinder, where you can see many recipes and ‘like’ the ones that look tasty.” The app – of which only a prototype exists at the moment – also has videos to show you how to make the recipes. 

“This is the third semester that we have been working together with OnePlanet, and discoveries like these are very valuable to us. Where possible, we build on them”, Plaisier explains. At the same time, the topics are constantly shifting, depending on the expertise in the new group of students. “For instance, OnePlanet is looking more at sleep hygiene this semester. What interventions can we use to help young people improve this?”

If it were up to Plaisier, the partnership between GO and OnePlanet would continue for many years. “This setting is inspiring. The tight organisation with regular meetings and follow-up activities is also enjoyable.” Stoekenbroek also looks back with satisfaction: “Seeing how everything is connected and combining out-of-the-box thinking with scientific insights was not only instructive but also refreshing.”