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The influence of

Diet on Primary
School Children

James Mckimmie
Applied Education Project - Proposal
B. Ed - RMIT Brunswick

How does diet affect the growth and development of school children in Australia? The
kinds of foods we eat and the times at which we eat these foods can influence our
mood and ability to concentrate.
In Australia we lead a time poor lifestyle, trying to squeeze the most out of the time we
have. How does this influence the food choices that parents make for their children.
The Australian Child Wellbeing Project has found that one in five young people in the
survey are going hungry to school or to bed, these children who are going hungry are
more likely to miss school frequently (2016). The children who do receive a packed
lunch for school are given a diverse range of foods; some perceived to be healthy and
others are treat foods, how does this influence a child's ability to concentrate and learn
in the classroom.
While undertaking this project I aim to focus on these four main points:
1. When a child attends school without having had breakfast, how does this
affect their ability to learn in the two hours of the school day, commonly a
literacy allocated time block, before they are given a chance to eat at recess.
2. How can a school create an environment where children can use the food
that they are given to work the hardest for them.
3. Diet can have a dramatic effect on mood and behaviour, how can we use
diet to positively influence children to become more engaged in the classroom.
4. What ways can the school environment be adapted to create children
who are empowered with knowledge about diet; employing this new knowledge
in the home and positively influencing diet choices of other family members.
From my experience working with children some of the most open and sincere
conversations I have had with children have been while we were eating or preparing
food together. The togetherness of enjoying a meal or snack together breaks down
many walls, between cultures, religions and between students and teachers. How can a
teacher use this to create an inviting and cherishing environment.

Curriculum Links
When conducting a search of the Australian Curriculum for Diet 11 results are returned
with only 1 result linking to Health and Physical Education for level 5 and 6. Of the
remaining 9 results are for Languages learning areas and Framework for Aboriginal
Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages progression points that focus on

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mostly on cultural diversity in diet. A final result is for history at Level 5 focusing again
on differences in diet.

The Health and Physical Education progression point ACPPS054 , level 5 and 6, briefly
touches on nutritional information on food packaging and nutritional value of meals.
We need to be educating our children from an earlier age more deeply about diet and
nutrition. Once children are at level 5 and 6 they will have developed diet trends that
may stay with them for life. If we equip our children with strong knowledge of diet and
nutrition early they will hopefully developed diet trends that are not only good for them
but also nutritious and diverse.

Published works and News Articles

These articles are the beginning of my research. I also plan to interview teachers while
on placement and discuss with children about their thoughts and feelings towards food.

I. Poor Nutrition can put children at risk of

mental illness

II. Hunger: Its Impact on Childrens Health and

Mental Health
A study completed in the USA, 2002, measured the effects of hunger and its
associated effects on children from diverse backgrounds.


The Australian Child Wellbeing Project

A comprehensive report of children in the middle years, aged 8-14years,

published in 2016. Many middle years children are going to school or bed
hungry, this has effects that are wide reaching.

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Packed school lunch in USA

Many parents in the USA are not utilising the school lunch service and packing
their children lunches at home, these lunches are usually packed full of sugar
laden snack foods and drinks that do not meet many health standards that the
lunch service must meet.

V. ABC News - Australians still eating too much

sugar, teenagers particularly at risk, research
Teenages are eating too much sugar


AITSL- Teaching Standards

Teaching standard points that may be addressed by conducting this Applied Education
1: Know students and how they learn
1.1 Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students
1.3 Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic
3:Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
3.5 Use effective classroom communication
4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments
4.1 Support student participation
4.3 Manage challenging behaviour
6: Engage in professional learning
6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice
6.4 Apply professional learning and improve student learning

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Health and Physical Education Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum by rows - The
Australian Curriculum v8.1. (2016). Retrieved 29 March
2016, from

Redmond, G., Skattebol, J., Saunders, P., Lietz, P., Zizzo, G., OGrady, E., Roberts, K.
(2016) Are the kids alright? Young Australians in their middle years: Final summary
report of the Australian Child Wellbeing Project. Flinders University, UNSW Australia,
Australian Council for Educational Research,

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