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P146 Australian Teachers’ Perceptions and Experiences of Food and Nutrition Education in Primary Schools: A Qualitative Study

      Background

      Australian children's diets are far from optimal with high consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods. Healthy practices established at early ages, such as following a well-balanced diet have the potential to last a lifetime. Teacher delivered food and nutrition education (FNE) can be effective in improving children's food literacy and eating habits. However, teachers are known to have some barriers to the delivery of FNE globally.

      Objective

      The objective of the study was to obtain a deeper understanding of Australian primary school teachers’ experiences and views of teaching FNE in primary schools. The study included an exploration of barriers to FNE.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      Seventeen primary school teachers from Victoria, Australia participated in semi-structured interviews.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and underwent thematic analysis through the template analysis technique using the NVivo software.

      Results

      The teachers acknowledged the importance of FNE and were willing to include more FNE content into their teaching. They reported that they taught various food and nutrition topics, including practical components such as cooking and gardening as well as environmental sustainability and food production related topics. In addition, they cooperated with a number of external teaching partners in particular, for practical FNE components. However, there were inconsistencies among schools in terms of FNE teaching frequency, the inclusion of topics and resources used. Several barriers to teaching FNE were mentioned, including scarcity of funds and time, lack of support from school administration, competition for time allocation with other compulsory subjects, and a lack of professional development.

      Conclusions

      These findings point to the areas that need to be improved to assist teachers in the delivery of FNE at schools. The findings can assist the design of healthy eating curriculum approaches for primary schools and professional development courses for primary school teachers, which will foster healthy food habits for children and their families in the future.

      Funding

      Deakin University

      SUPPLEMENTARY DATA

      Supplementary data related to this article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2022.04.187.

      Appendix. SUPPLEMENTARY DATA