Dental Tribune International

Teachers crucial to development of healthy eating habits, study finds

By Brendan Day, Dental Tribune International
October 30, 2020

SYDNEY, Australia: When it comes to the development of children’s habits, the influence their teachers hold in this regard is clear. In a new review study out of Australia, researchers have confirmed that correct nutritional guidance provided by qualified teachers can positively impact their students’ eating habits.

Researchers from the universities of Sydney and Macquarie conducted the review, which included 34 relevant articles. These studies examined the efficacy of nutritional education programmes in elementary schools, and the researchers found that the largest effect of these programmes seemed to be the reduction of the children’s energy intake. Positive effects on the children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables and on their nutritional knowledge were also noted.

According to the researchers, prior studies on this topic have demonstrated that the effectiveness of these nutritional education programmes depends on a number of factors, chief among them being the programme’s duration as well as initiatives to engage children’s parents and families in these processes. “I think it’s fair to say that engaging parents is a key feature in the success of nutrition programmes for children,” Dr Wayne Cotton, director of teacher education at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and co-author of the study, told Dental Tribune International (DTI).

As DTI recently reported, the oral health of Australian children is currently a cause for great concern, more than 50% of the nation’s children having experienced dental caries by 6 years of age. In addition, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that, in 2017–18, just 6% of children were eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables.

The study, titled “The effect of teacher-delivered nutrition education programs on elementary-aged students: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis”, was published in the December 2020 issue of Preventive Medicine Reports.

 

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