New HEAL Study Examines Elementary School Children’s Knowledge about Food and Nutrition in Southwestern Ontario, Canada
A team of researchers led by Paige Colley with Jamie Seabrook, Sarah Woodruff, and Jason Gilliland recently published a study entitled: “Examining Elementary School Children’s Knowledge about Food and Nutrition in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.”
Knowledge is fundamental to helping children make nutritional choices that support lifelong healthy behaviours. This study (i) investigates elementary school children’s knowledge about food and nutrition and (ii) identifies sociodemographic factors influencing children’s reported knowledge.
In 2017–2019, a survey was administered to 2443 students (grades 5–8) at 60 schools across southwestern Ontario, Canada, and a parent survey was used to validate self-reported sociodemographics. Multiple regression was used to analyse children’s knowledge scores and related sociodemographic factors. A total knowledge score was calculated by summing correct responses derived from 46 individual questions in the student survey.
Mean total knowledge score was 29.2 out of a possible 46 points (63.5% correct). Students demonstrated some knowledge and awareness of strategies to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, healthy food selection, nutrition, and food preparation skills, although knowledge of food guide recommendations and locally sourced produce were limited. Female sex, family income, and rurality were associated with higher knowledge scores.
Results provide insight regarding strengths and gaps in elementary-school children’s food and nutrition knowledge. Poor performance of students on specific food guide-related questions suggests that the general guidance of the 2019 Canada’s Food Guide might be better understood by children and adolescents.
Citation: Paige Colley, Jamie Seabrook, Sarah Woodruff, and Jason Gilliland. “Examining Elementary School Children’s Knowledge about Food and Nutrition in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.” Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research e-first (2022); https://doi.org/10.3148/cjdpr-2021-037