International Conference "Food, Children and Youth: What’s Eating?”, 21-22 February 2014, at the Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa (ICS-UL), Lisbon, Portugal


Children and youth food practices are becoming increasingly perceived as problematic, reflecting concerns on childhood overweight and obesity rates in several countries. Apart from issues with excess food, food deficit problems (malnutrition, food security) are becoming ever more present in both developed and developing countries, since the rise in fuel, energy and food prices (in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 crises and the austerity measures forcefully applied in some countries). Both food surplus and deficit are having major repercussions on the health and wellbeing of children and youth. It is noticeable a moralization of children and youth food practices in many sites as diverse as food shopping outlets, media discourses, TV adverts, food packaging, schools, education and health policies, and even family households. Various policies and initiatives have been designed to tackle perceived risky and unhealthy diets by children and youth, and some innovative initiatives on school meals and food education have offered interesting insights on how to push the public and private sectors’ agenda towards healthy, sustainable, secure and socially just food. In all these debates, policies, and strategies, visions of “eating well” are put forward, often clashing with everyday life children’s and youth foodways in schools, in commercial spaces, among friends or family.

This conference addressed a general theme: what’s eating? In other words, how are children and youth eating practices configured and re-configured, contested and normalized, through symbolic, cultural, material, embodied, social and political contexts, across time and space?

Established scholars and post-graduate students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and with different theoretical and methodological approaches presented their work. For more information go to the website:

The best papers from the conference will be considered for publication in a special issue to be proposed to a high quality international peer review journal.

Conference themes included:

-Theoretical issues on childhood, youth and food

-Generational and peer relations in children and youth food practices

-Children and youth food cultures

-Food marketing targeted to children and youth

-Public food procurement and sustainability in schools

-Toys, food and fun

-Methodological issues in researching children and youth food practices

-Young bodies, food excess and restriction: risk, health and aesthetics

-Eating animals: cuteness, yum and yuk

-Food policies for children and youth

-Family meals: agency, resistance and creativity

-Eating out and youth cultures

-Food and new social media

-Food and migration: continuities and disruptions

-Eating in times of austerity: changes in institutional configurations and practices

-Development and acquisition of new food tastes and competences

-Media representations of childhood obesity and malnutrition