I grew up in a small village in the north-east of Austria. In my family, shared meals were of real social importance. I always attended school classes where subjects such as nutrition and home economics, nutrition science, and cooking were part of the curriculum. ‘Nutrition’ and ‘health’ have always had a positive connotation for me. Later on I recognised that very few children in our school system were given the chance to learn something about health literacy or nutrition competence. This was one of my motives for choosing nutrition and home economics for my teacher training studies.
During a number of years teaching children at secondary level, I witnessed the profound lack of health promotion and nutrition literacy in schools. I studied nutrition science and home economics at the University of Vienna while continuing teaching at secondary level. After travelling a lot through South-East Asia and several years’ teaching experience in Scotland, Estonia and Hungary, where I saw very different approaches to health promotion, I came back to Austria, and in 2008 I started to teach health, nutrition and consumer education at the University of Education in Vienna.
My personal focus is on the promotion of health and nutrition literacy for children and adolescents, considering gender and intercultural aspects as well, and in addition, advanced training courses for adults. This is certainly a big issue and there is a huge deficiency of political awareness, nationally and internationally. I sorely miss widespread and well-coordinated programmes concerning the health and nutrition of young people.
This passion to improve young people’s health and lives inspires me in my daily work. To improve and develop the situation, well-structured public health programmes are imperative. Although there are many projects and steps in the right direction, I am painfully aware of the need for a sustainable health promotion policy globally. ‘Health literacy for every child worldwide’ is a noble aim, and international networking and cooperation are essential.