UK launch for Highland food, mood & health game
Issued by NHS Highland
As concerns over childhood obesity make headline news recently, a board game that helps shape children’s thinking and behaviour around food has been given the go-ahead for a UK-wide launch.
The Food, Mood & Health game – created by two Highland public health dietitians with help from a specialist play-based education company - is designed to be a fun way of getting kids to develop sensible, healthy attitudes towards food that will last a lifetime.
Primarily aimed at use in schools and youth organisations, the game’s content was co-developed by Fiona Clarke, senior health improvement specialist from NHS Highland and Dave Rex, specialist dietitian from The Highland Council and produced by Glasgow-based Focus Games Ltd.
The UK move follows positive feedback after the game was tested at local schools and youth organisations in Inverness and Strathpeffer. It’s timely launch comes at a time where there are growing concerns about children’s health.
Fiona said: “Last month the childhood obesity strategy was launched in England. While we want all children to eat well and be fairly active, it is important to note that they come in all shapes and sizes.
“What we wanted in Food Mood & Health was for children to talk about how they can be healthy both physically and mentally. That’s why we called it the Food, Mood & Health game. It’s really a way of starting a conversation about how what you eat can affect your mood, and how your mood can affect what you eat. And how these two things affect your health.”
The simple, turn-based game is also designed to help tackle the thorny problem of body weight and shape issues.
Dave said: “Teachers, quite rightly, are often worried about addressing issues about a child’s body weight because it’s a sensitive issue. This game helps them navigate this issue in a respectful way.”
Using the throw of a dice, players land on different squares as they travel around the board. Through chance and a combination of questions and images, a wide range of food-related issues help kick-start discussion, interaction and debate between the game’s two teams. The winner is the team that answers the most questions correctly and either gets round the board first or who collects the most tokens.
The game was tested by pupils at Inverness High School, and at the city’s Hilton Primary and St Joseph’s RC Primary schools. It was also piloted by the 1st Strathpeffer Guides. The trials proved to be a great success.
Dave said: “By doing the pilots, we now know that people really enjoyed playing it. It makes them think. While it’s aimed at schools, we’ve used it with adults and it works great with them, too.”
Despite being a game, Dave said the ideal way is to use Food, Mood & Health was as a resource in lesson plans in schools.
He said: “It’s a good vehicle for fitting in several places in the curriculum. In English, it meets the literacy requirements. In Home Economics, it ties in with food choices, cooking skills and health benefits. And in Personal, Social, Health and Economics (PHSE) the game helps highlight issues like discrimination and self esteem. It ticks a few boxes.”