NZ ECE teachers lack knowledge about basic nutrition

06 June 2018
child eating

New Zealand research looking how much early childhood educators know about nutrition and physical activity for pre-schoolers finds that teachers lack basic nutrition knowledge.

The Massey University study involved a survey of nearly 400 early childhood educators (ECE) throughout New Zealand.

The teachers were asked a range of questions and their knowledge was tested against the Ministry of Health’s Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children (Aged 2-18years).

The research found that overall teachers’ knowledge of nutrition was lacking.  The overall score for teachers on the nutrition test was 61% correct.

The researcher says teachers’ nutritional knowledge becomes more important as more and more New Zealand pre-schoolers spend time in organised educational care.

The teachers’ age, qualification and employment role did not appear to influence their overall nutrition knowledge scores.

However, more experienced teachers were more likely to be aware of that New Zealand nutrition and physical activity guidelines existed.

Those teachers who scored higher in nutrition knowledge were more likely to say they were confident in talking about nutrition to parents.

Most ECE teachers believe that they play a vital role in promoting pre-schoolers’ healthy eating and physical activity.

The teachers identified common barriers to extending their knowledge as a lack of staff training, confidence and resources.

The researcher concludes that ECE teachers may lack nutrition knowledge for pre-schoolers, particularly with regards to basic nutrition recommendations (servings, food/beverage choices and portion sizes).

You can read the research here.