Not a Piece of Cake

Understanding the Food Rituals at Birthday Parties in New Zealand

Executive Summary     Full Report

Project Abstract

The development of Type 2 Diabetes, a global issue with no cure, has a potential link to excessive indulgence of junk food. We worked with the Child Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Network to investigate food rituals at children’s birthday parties. Our research, based on 22 in-depth interviews, focused on the motivations, expectations, and significance of the foods served at children’s birthday parties in the Greater Wellington Region. We found that the expectation for unhealthy food was ingrained into both children and adults because of tradition, convenience, and cost. We recommend that the Network create a social marketing campaign geared towards teaching parents to talk to their children about healthy choices and how parents can create healthier birthday parties.

Student Team

  • Sean J Amos, CS
  • Amanda M Baltazar, BE
  • Julie M Mazza, BIO
  • Alino C Te, ME


Child Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Network


  • Elmes, Michael B., MG
  • Hersh, Robert, ID