With a background in public/international health, I have now attained one of my goals of carrying out a PhD within the project titled: “Fostering sustainable dietary habits through optimised school meals – OPTIMAT”.
Commitment to international agreements on sustainable development necessitates fundamental changes in human diets. By introducing children to environmentally sustainable and healthy school meals from an early age there is large potential to improve children’s knowledge of sustainable development and their diets in the short and long term.
Hence, the overall aim of this research project is to optimize school meals with regard to greenhouse gas emissions, nutritional content, and acceptability to children, at the lowest possible cost. This research is financed by the Swedish Research Council Formas and constitutes collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, the National Food Agency Sweden, and the WHO Collaborative Centre Metropolitan University College in Copenhagen.
By the end of this project we will have achieved the following goals:
1. The dietary habits of Swedish school children and adolescents, and its relationship with school meal quality, has been assessed.
2. A new tool to measure consumption and food waste is available to all schools.
3. Application of linear programming to identify school food baskets optimized for minimal environmental impact, which take nutritional content, cost, and acceptability into account.
4. Development and testing of optimized school menus based on the food baskets, and evaluation of students’ dietary intake, acceptability, consumption and waste.
5. Development of guidelines for school meal providers.