Familiarity and Use of MyPlate: An Online Focus Group Exploration Among Midwestern K–12 Teachers

Published:October 28, 2022DOI:



      To examine teachers’ familiarity and use of MyPlate, including barriers to using it.


      Twenty kindergarten through grade 12 teachers were recruited from 1 urban and suburban school district in the Midwest to participate in virtual focus groups regarding familiarity, use, and barriers to MyPlate. A basic descriptive qualitative approach with thematic analysis was guided by systems thinking. Common categories were coded and agreed on by the authors.


      Findings included main categories of individual awareness, use in curriculum, and appropriate facilitators of MyPlate. Awareness and use of MyPlate were mixed. Teachers integrated MyPlate in math, history, and other subjects. Barriers included packed curriculum and cultural issues. The facilitators of MyPlate mentioned were health or physical education teachers.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Online focus groups successfully collected formative data on teachers’ perspectives toward MyPlate. The technology could be used in future similar research. Enhanced teacher training may improve the integration of MyPlate into schools. School teachers identified major barriers to MyPlate in the classroom, including lack of time and resources. There was mixed feedback on how MyPlate and nutrition may be used in school curricula. Enhanced teacher training may improve the integration of MyPlate into schools.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access

      SNEB Member Login

      SNEB Members, full access to the journal is a member benefit. Login via the SNEB Website to access all journal content and features.


      Subscribe to Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • 111th Congress
        Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
        Public Law 111-296. 2010; 124: 3183-3266
        • Chrisman M
        • Diaz Rios LK
        Evaluating MyPlate after 8 years: a perspective.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2019; 51: 899-903
        • Jahns L
        • Conrad Z
        • Johnson LK
        • Raatz SK
        • Kranz S.
        Recognition of federal dietary guidance icons is associated with greater diet quality.
        J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018; 118: 2120-2127
        • Haack SA
        • Byker CJ.
        Recent population adherence to and knowledge of United States federal nutrition guides, 1992–2013: a systematic review.
        Nutr Rev. 2014; 72: 613-626
        • Briggs M
        • Fleischhacker S
        • Mueller CG
        American Dietetic Association, School Nutrition Association, Society for Nutrition Education. Position of the American Dietetic Association, School Nutrition Association, and society for nutrition education: comprehensive school nutrition services.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2010; 42: 360-371
        • Watts SO
        • Piñero DJ
        • Alter MM
        • Lancaster KJ.
        An assessment of nutrition education in selected counties in new york state elementary schools (kindergarten through fifth grade).
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2012; 44: 474-480
        • Celebuski C
        • Farris E
        • Carpenter JM.
        Nutrition Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.
        US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, 1996: 96-852
      1. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Health Education Grade-Level Expectations. Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; 2007. Accessed March 23, 2022.

      2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National health education standards. Accessed July 17, 2022

      3. State of Childhood Obesity. Highest obesity rates among 10-17 yr-olds (2019-2020). Accessed June 29, 2022

        • Perera T
        • Frei S
        • Frei B
        • Sun Wong S
        • Bobe G
        Improving nutrition education in U.S. elementary schools: challenges and opportunities.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015; 6: 41-50
        • Van Assche K
        • Verschraegen G
        • Valentinov V
        • Gruezmacher M.
        The social, the ecological, and the adaptive. Von Bertalanffy's general systems theory and the adaptive governance of social-ecological systems.
        Syst Res Behav Sci. 2019; 36: 308-321
        • Amissah M
        • Gannon T
        • Monat J.
        What is systems thinking? Expert perspectives from the WPI systems thinking colloquium of 2 October 2019.
        Systems. 2020; 8: 6
        • Arnold RD
        • Wade JP.
        A definition of systems thinking: a systems approach.
        Procedia Comput Sci. 2015; 44: 669-678
        • Bradshaw C
        • Atkinson S
        • Doody O.
        Employing a qualitative description approach in health care research.
        Glob Qual Nurs Res. 2017; 42333393617742282
        • Dos Santos Marques IC
        • Theiss LM
        • Johnson CY
        • et al.
        Implementation of virtual focus groups for qualitative data collection in a global pandemic.
        Am J Surg. 2021; 221: 918-922
        • Giltz B.
        The focus group technique in library research: an introduction.
        J Med Libr Assoc. 1997; 85: 385-390
        • Nowell LS
        • Norris JM
        • White DE
        • Moules NJ.
        Thematic analysis: striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria.
        Int J Qual Methods. 2017; 16: 1-13
        • Merriam SB
        • Tisdell EJ.
        Basic qualitative research. Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation.
        4th ed. Jossey-Bass, 2016
      4. United States Department of Agriculture. The Food Guide Pyramid. Home and Garden Bulletin 252. United States Department of Agriculture; 1992.

        • Darlington EJ
        • Violon N
        • Jourdan D
        Implementation of health promotion programmes in schools: an approach to understand the influence of contextual factors on the process?.
        BMC Public Health. 2018; 18: 163
        • Cygan H
        • Tribbia C
        • Tully J.
        School health policy implementation: facilitators and challenges.
        J Sch Nurs. 2020; 36: 330-338
        • Hager ER
        • Rubio DS
        • Eidel GS
        • et al.
        Implementation of local wellness policies in schools: role of school systems, school health councils, and health disparities.
        J Sch Health. 2016; 86: 742-750
        • Jackson A
        • Hurst GA.
        Chemistry education research and practice.
        Chem Sci. 2021; 22: 855-865
        • Chrisman M
        • Patel S
        • Alonzo R.
        Barriers to and facilitators of using MyPlate nutritional guidelines in K-12 teachers and principals.
        Health Educ J. 2020; 79: 152-165
        • Fitchett PG
        • Heafner TL.
        Student demographics and teacher characteristics as predictors of elementary-age students’ history knowledge: implications for teacher education and practice.
        Teach Teach Educ. 2017; 67: 79-92
        • Yao-Ping PM
        • Zhang Z
        • Shi-Huei Ho S
        A study on the relationship among knowledge acquisition sources at the teacher and college-level, student absorptive capacity and learning outcomes: using student prior knowledge as a moderator.
        Educ Sci. 2019; 19: 22-39
        • Tchoshanov MA.
        Relationship between teacher knowledge of concepts and connections, teaching practice, and student achievement in middle grades mathematics.
        Educ Stud Math. 2011; 76: 141-164
        • Sadler PM
        • Sonnert G
        • Coyle HP
        • Cook-Smith N
        • Miller JL.
        The influence of teachers’ knowledge on student learning in middle school physical science classrooms.
        Am Educ Res J. 2013; 50: 1020-1049
        • Madigan DJ
        • Kim LE.
        Does teacher burnout affect students? A systematic review of its association with academic achievement and student-reported outcomes.
        Int J Educ Res. 2021; 105101714
        • Hall E
        • Chai W
        • Albrecht JA.
        A qualitative phenomenological exploration of teachers’ experience with nutrition education.
        Am J Health Educ. 2016; 47: 136-148
        • Peralta LR
        • Dudley DA
        • Cotton WG.
        Teaching healthy eating to elementary school students: a scoping review of nutrition education resources.
        J Sch Health. 2016; 86: 334-345
      5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health. US Department of Health and Human Services; 2012.

        • Hammerschmidt P
        • Tackett W
        • Golzynski M
        • Golzynski D.
        Barriers to and facilitators of healthful eating and physical activity in low-income schools.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2011; 43: 63-68
        • Jones AM
        • Zidenberg-Cherr S.
        Exploring nutrition education resources and barriers, and nutrition knowledge in teachers in California.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2015; 47: 162-169
        • Savoie-Roskos MR
        • Wengreen H
        • Durward C.
        Increasing fruit and vegetable intake among children and youth through gardening-based interventions: a systematic review.
        J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017; 117: 240-250
        • Fulkerson JA
        • French SA
        • Story M
        • Nelson H
        • Hannan PJ.
        Promotions to increase lower-fat food choices among students in secondary schools: description and outcomes of TACOS (trying alternative cafeteria options in schools).
        Public Health Nutr. 2004; 7: 665-674
        • Moss A
        • Smith S
        • Null D
        • Long Roth S
        • Tragoudas U
        Farm to school and nutrition education: positively affecting elementary school-aged children‘s nutrition knowledge and consumption behavior.
        Child Obes. 2013; 9: 51-56
        • Levine E
        • Olander C
        • Lefebvre C
        • Cusick P
        • Biesiadecki L
        • McGoldrick D.
        The Team Nutrition pilot study: lessons learned from implementing a comprehensive school-based intervention.
        J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002; 34: 109-116