Professor Fergus Lowe, founder of the Food Dudes scheme that has revolutionised getting kids to eat more fresh produce, has died aged 68.
Lowe is understood to have died of a heart attack in early December, but his death was not widely publicised at the time.
The professor emeritus in psychology at Bangor University was best known for his work in setting up Food Dudes, a new way of incentivising school children to try a range of fruit and vegetables and make a lasting difference to their diet.
The scheme, which featured a series of cartoon characters and rewards, had many successes, including being rolled out across schools in Ireland and, in 2014, winning a contract to become part of the School Food Plan and the chance to be featured in schools across England. Lowe also secured trials in countries such as the US and Italy as the programme took off.
To take the work to the next level Food Dudes Health Ltd was established as a social enterprise in 2012 in collaboration with Bangor University, with Lowe as CEO. Food Dudes won recognition from many quarters, including an award from the World Health Organisation, the UK Chief Medical Officer’s Gold Medal Award and the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Analysis’ award for Scientific Translation.
Lowe joined Bangor in 1973, where he was head of the School of Psychology for several decades. His main research interests were in the area of children’s learning and language development, and his work in that area was published extensively in leading international journals and books.
He served as deputy vice-chancellor at Bangor from 2004 until retiring in 2012.
He also advised both the British and Irish governments, as well as the European Commission, on changing children’s eating habits, and served as vice chair of the EU’s Scientific Expert Panel for the School Fruit Scheme.
FPJ understands Sarah Reiter, director at Food Dudes Health, has taken on responsibility for running the programme.