Final Comparisons between the U.S. and U.K.

As my study abroad trip to London quickly comes to an end, it’s time to draw some final comparisons about how healthy eating is communicated to children and families in the U.S. and the U.K.

Key Similarities

The communications strategies are very similar in the U.S. and the U.K. to tap into children and families about healthy eating. Like the U.S., messaging in the U.K. must be consistent and specific, age appropriate, make the behavior change of eating healthier attractive and messaging in the U.K. and U.S. should focus on small, easy changes to be effective.


Although the communications strategies to influence children about healthy eating in the U.S. and the U.K. are nearly the same, the communications techniques are taken to a new, more advanced level in the U.K.

Similar to the U.S., the U.K. has created programs that focus on small changes in local communities and schools. But in the U.K., those small changes lead to bigger, more impacting changes. Through my research and interviews I found the main reason the small initiatives and programs in the U.K. grow is because of government involvement and funding.

Tim Lloyd, head of Digital Communications at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), who previously worked for the Department of Health, helped me draw the most insightful comparisons about the government’s involvement with healthy eating initiatives.

He talked passionately about improving society and working toward making it a better place for everyone to live in. To do this, he mentioned the importance of working through society, such as targeting supermarkets to regulate the sale unhealthy foods.

Mr. Lloyd said the U.K. is suffering massive economic challenges and it is more difficult to create new programs to reach diverse audiences, but if everyone works together on important projects, the costs will be lower and it will be more meaningful in the end.

In addition, Gemma Webb, marketing and evaluation manager for the Houses of Parliament Outreach Service spoke about Parliament’s involvement with outreach activities and the different themes that are created to engage the public. She said they are currently working on a theme that will focus on healthy school lunches because of a public concern for making health improvements in society. Although this outreach activity is still being thought out, Ms. Webb said it is important because people should understand what Parliament does and its effect on health concerns in the U.K.

Additional findings and surprises

The U.K. takes initiative and isn’t afraid to change the way things used to be done.

Programs and campaigns are more effective because of government support and funding.

Best Practices on a global level

  • Take a risks to make the best changes
  • Collaboration is key
  • Integrate efforts to reach more people and do less with more
  • Be committed
  • Make it easy to understand and visually attractive to kids and parents
  • Accessibility counts
  • Engagement builds trust with your audience
  • Be genuine

The U.K.

  • More committed
  • Supports funding for healthy eating programs and regulations
  • More consistent – locally and nationally from government involvement and outreach efforts
  • Listens to people -Bans dyes and artificial flavors due to consumer outcry

Overall, the U.K. seems to care a lot more about improving society and making a positive social change. The country is not giving up because of the lack of funding. Instead, it is thinking of new ways to do more with less.

But, although the government seems to have a better handle on things, the deceiving advertising still exists. I learned at Mother, an ad agency in London, that if research shows people are not buying a product because of health reasons, the advertising will show the “health” benefits of a product, such as Pop Tarts with whole grains, even if the product is actually very unhealthy. So, it seems there is an obvious battle between the advertising and the government regulating the sale of unhealthy products.

Although, the U.K. still needs to improve with its efforts, it understands that changes need to be made to improve society. I am so impressed by the risks being taken to healthy and happy kidsmake improvements by banning packed school lunches altogether to improve the health of children.

As a professional, I have learned so much and have realized I have a true passion for social change and improving society. I was so inspired when I visited BIS and learned all about the changes they are undergoing to improve society. It is obvious they actually care about social welfare, and it is refreshing to know people understand what needs to be done and how to make changes in a suffering economy.


London Favorites

London is more amazing than I ever could have imagined. I have had the most eventful days sightseeing, learning, eating and hanging out with friends. I can’t believe this trip of a lifetime is almost over!

I have learned so much about the differences in the U.K. and U.S. for my project, while having a blast exploring London every single day.

I could tell you about the wonderful places I’ve visited, as well as explain all of the delicious food I have eaten, but seeing it all will be more fun. Check out the slideshow I created for my favorite things from my Global Ad & PR trip to London.

Hope you enjoy!


Stumbling into Insight Across the Pond

Sometimes when you least expect it, you’ll run into something great. That’s what happened to me at the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) meeting I attended with some of my Global Ad & PR classmates today.

BIS insight

When I first entered the BIS doors, I had no idea I would leave the building feeling so refreshed and inspired. I learned more than I ever would’ve expected about the U.K. government and some of the great changes it’s undergoing due to economic hardships. In particular, I was informed about the integration of departments and the new ideas being developed because of the current economic climate in the U.K.

At the meeting, I met Tim Lloyd, head of Digital Communications at BIS, who offered great insight, and to my advantage, previously worked for the Department of Health.  He worked with National Health Services (NHS), in addition to the Change4Life that I originally set out to research in the U.K.

More to explore 

Although I couldn’t ask him everything I wanted to in our short meeting, he mentioned and briefly explained many topics that will help develop my project quite a bit. Some of the topics I want to explore more are his experience with working on programs for healthy school lunches and partnering with supermarkets to work through society to implement healthy eating initiatives.

I plan to talk to Mr. Lloyd about his involvement with specific healthy eating policies, especially those that target children and schools. I also want to learn more about his involvement with Change4Life and NHS, as well as the supermarket partnership he briefly spoke about.  After hearing him speak, I could tell he was passionate about improving society and working toward making it a better place for all people. Both Mr. Lloyd and Jacqueline Williamson, who also spoke from the Cabinet Office inspired me because they were so dedicated to their involvement with BIS, the U.K. government and working toward improving society as a whole, even with economic challenges.

Inspirational BIS action

The meeting moved me because the people working for BIS truly care about fixing the problems they are facing, whether it has to do with public health, education, employment and many more issues. They understand that they don’t have the funding to implement loads of separate programs, so they are collaborating and working together to achieve their goals instead of cutting programs that are important to society. The BIS in the U.K. understands that certain initiatives must continue to better society, while the U.S.government is more concerned with funding and will quickly remove programs if there is not enough money for them to exist. It seems the U.K. is up-to-date with the idea of collaboration, and the U.S. government is focusing on the wrong issues, especially when it comes to healthy eating policies.

The truth is, many countries are undergoing economic adversity, including the U.S. and U.K. But it’s important to work together and solve existing problems to work toward achieving a well-functioning, innovative society.

London First Impressions

I’ve been in London for four days, and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling. Each morning I wake up, I jump out of bed and am ready to start a new day in London! No photo (5)matter where I am or who I see, everything is more exciting to me than it ever could be in the states. London is filled with beautiful history, great fashion, food, and it truly is a blast to be here.

During my first few days here, I’ve gotten to know my classmates and have already created many memories and great stories to tell my friends and family when I return home.

First Impressions

I have fallen in love with London fashion. The first thing I noticed is that just about everyone looks amazing. Whether I’m on the Tube, the bus or just walking, I am fascinated by how great everyone looks—even little kids! The fashion-forward culture of London has definitely inspired me.

In addition to the fashion, the food choices and all natural ingredients that most foods contain impress me. You can actually pronounce the ingredients when reading food labels. Also, I have noticed there are more fruit and vegetable choices with foods here. Even if you order a sandwich, a salad is generally served with it instead of fries or chips.

Experiences so far

In just four days I’ve traveled to Buckingham Palace, Green Park, Big Ben and London Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Westminster Cathedral, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus and many other great places. I’ve tried some great food as well, with Indian being my favorite at Cinnamon Tree.

It’s fun to compare the differences here to the states. From the pub life to the shopping, people and places I have seen and interacted with, I can definitely say that I love this city.

U.S. Key Findings and Plan for the U.K.

I can’t believe the U.S. portion of this project is almost complete! I have learned so much since I began my research in January, and it’s almost time to go to London!

Key Findings in the U.S.

After I thought of the idea to compare messaging about eating in the U.S. and the U.K., I had an idea of how the project would end up in the back of my mind. However, based on my research and the experts I interviewed in the U.S., the direction of my plan for the U.K. changed quite a bit.

From my research on healthy eating programs in the U.S., I was able to begin answering the original research questions I asked.

The questions are:

  1. What effective communications strategies are used to educate children about eating well?
  2. Are the communications approaches different in the U.S. and the U.K.?
  3. What are the best practices used to promote healthy eating to children and families on a global level?

Doug Wolf, the project manager at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, has worked on various healthy eating and fitness campaigns designed for children.  He was able to help me come to many conclusions about effective communications strategies and the best practices used to promote healthy eating to children in the U.S. The other professionals I spoke to helped validate the key strategies Doug highlighted.

Here are the effective communications strategies used to educate children about healthy eating in the U.S.:

  • The messaging should be culturally and age appropriate
  • Focus on small, easy changes
  • Make the behavior change attractive (Drinking water is cool)
  • Be consistent
  • Be specific with your call to action

Best Practices

“Take small bites, rather than trying to take on an entire problem at once”  — Doug Wolf

  • Unified approaches
  • A common set of measurable objectives
  • True, meaningful collaboration

 Best Programs

Barriers to success

  • Lack of funding
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Inconsistency
  • Lack of government regulations for healthy eating programs

Surprises and Inspirations

The fact that many schools, hospitals and programs lack the funding to implement lasting healthy eating programs doesn’t surprise me, but it is quite frustrating. It is also wearisome that the U.S. doesn’t have government regulations requiring healthy eating programs in schools. Most programs exist because of grant funding, so they don’t last. And when these programs cannot continue, they are not helpful to kids.

This brings me to my plan for the United Kingdom.

I am interested in learning about the government regulations for healthy eating programs in schools in the U.K. The Food Dudes program originated in the U.K. and is very successful there. Food Dudes was implemented in a few schools in Utah, but it has not expanded. I want to learn about how such a great program can be implemented in so many schools in one country and not spread at all in another.

My Top 10 London Destinations

We’re a little over a month away from departing on this amazing trip of a lifetime! The excitement is starting to become overwhelming, so I’m going to share some of the things I want to do while I’m in London.

These aren’t in order of what I want to see the most because I can’t decide! I’ll start with an Indian restaurant, though, since I’m obsessed with Indian food, and I would love to try it out in London.

1. The Famous Curry Bazaar

This is heaven to me.

This restaurant is rated one of London’s best curry houses, and as a huge Indian food fanatic, I have to eat here!  Located on the East End, The Famous Curry Bazaar can be found in one of London’s more artistic areas with young Londoners, music and street performers at the famous Brick Lane Market.  It’s also extremely cheap compared to other restaurants in London, so I might have to eat here a couple times.

2. Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens absolutely love the outdoors, and my trip will not be complete without a visit to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. I’m currently daydreaming about picnicking on the park’s green grass and truly enjoying the peaceful nature in London.

3. Hampton Court Palace could I not include Hampton Court in my top 10 places to visit? I learned a lot about this wonderful palace when I researched it for our class Tourism presentations. I would absolutely love to visit Hampton Court because it is a gorgeous historic castle and has the most incredible maze I have ever seen! I need to go!

4. The London Eye

The London Eye is a 443-foot Ferris wheel located on the banks of the River Thames. Sightseers see a panoramic shot of London including, The Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and many other famous buildings and places around London. I definitely think the London Eye is a must-see destination.

5. The National Gallery

I admit, I am not an art connoisseur, but the National Gallery was an easy choice for my top 10 List. The gallery has over 2,300 paintings dating back as far as the 13th century, and it’s free to visit!

6. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is the place of worship owned by the royal family. The Abbey contains some of the most magnificent medieval architecture in London, with its parts dating back to the year 1050. The church has held almost every coronation since 1066 and 16 royal weddings, including the most recent Prince William and Kate Middleton Royal Wedding. It would be amazing to visit this beautiful and historic church while I’m in London.

7. Buckingham Palace

Home to the Queen of England and the Royal family, Buckingham Palace is one of those tourist destinations you just can’t miss when going to London. The palace is also where the famous military ceremony, Changing of the Guard takes place!

9. Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is the most visually famous bridge in London. And its giant towers and magnificent architecture are more than tempting.

9. The Dean Swift

One of my first thoughts when I knew I was going on this incredible adventure was experiencing London pub life. Pubs are the center to the local culture and will be a great place to experience what London has to offer. Dean Swift is a true local pub and is known for its wide selectionof craft beers and local foods.

This is Dean Swift’s description on its website:

“ENJOY CRAFT BEER! Craft beer and creative food at the Dean Swift – your SE1 local beer house. We enjoy exploring the joys of artisinal, full-flavoured beer and tasty, well-sourced food in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, free of any pretense or boundaries. Come in, relax, and enjoy the Dean Swift experience.”

Sounds pretty awesome, right?

10. Profile Health and Fitness

I thought my opportunity to be internationally healthy would be poorly misused if I didn’t find London’s best health and fitness center. Profile Health and Fitness is located in Hilton London Euston. The center has a full glass ceiling and has the best equipment set in a very modern and unique design.

Discovering Best Practices in Healthy Eating Programs: The Food Dudes

If you dislike carrots and someone tells you should eat them because they’re good for you, will you?

The answer is simple. You wouldn’t start eating carrots because you don’t like carrots.

It’s the same with kids. By telling kids to eat fruit and vegetables because they are “good for them” is not very effective. They’ve already made up their minds that they don’t like fruit and vegetables, and often, parents go along with it. Kids make these decisions before even trying the healthy foods. Therefore, they must be exposed to a variety of different fruit and veggies so they can start to like them.

That’s where the Food Dudes come in!

Food Dudes to the Rescue!

The Food Dudes Healthy Eating Program is a school- based behavior change program that originated in the U.K. The Food Dudes Program was designed to increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables for children and families. It works to change children’s diets for life by encouraging them to taste fruit and veggies repeatedly. Kids are rewarded for trying the foods, and soon they start to consider themselves as “fruit and vegetable eaters”.

How it works

Children are read stories and/or watch DVDs starring the “Food Dudes,” who are influential role models for children to mimic. Oh, and the “Food Dudes” are superheroes, which makes it even better.

The videos act as fruit and vegetable promotion strategies and successfully encourage significant, long lasting increases in the intake of fruit and vegetables. The tapes use principles such as exposure (simply exposing kids to fruits and veggies can increase consumption), modeling (by parents and teachers and superheroes!) and reinforcement (signs of approval and encouragement).

Sounds like fun right?

Before (Control) and after (Experimental) the Food Dudes Program

Kids seem to think so, too because Food Dudes is working. The healthy eating program is successful in schools throughout Europe, especially in the U.K. Efforts are also being made in schools in the United States, with a small presence in Utah.

Food Dudes is recognized globally as a market leader for cultural change and was given the World Health Organization‘s Best Practice award in 2006.

Wouldn’t you like to see a program like this more in the U.S.? I’m interested in finding out why it isn’t so popular here. Any thoughts?

A Healthy Adventure in the U.S. and Abroad

Encouraging healthy lifestyles

I strongly believe living healthy and active lives makes all people happier. Exercise is proven to improve moods with the release of endorphins, and eating well makes everyone feel better.

My passion for encouraging everyone to live healthy and active lives has brought me to explore health-focused campaigns in the United States and the United Kingdom. Specifically, I will do a comparative study on some communications strategies that are used in the U.S. and the U.K. campaigns to advocate for healthier lives.

Since being healthy is essential to every individual’s wellbeing, my target audience is quite broad, ranging from the elderly to young children. Everyone deserves to improve or her health, but I would specifically like to focus on how eating better is communicated to families with young children. Continue reading