How can we increase the amount of nutrition education low-income elementary school students receive in school so that students’ attitudes towards healthy eating is positive and sustainable?
According to the CDC, “nutrition education is a vital part of a comprehensive health education program and empowers children with knowledge and skills to make healthy food and beverage choices.” That being said, students receive far less education than what is necessary to influence their attitudes and behavior towards having a healthy diet. The quality of nutrition education varies among schools;in fact, some students may not receive any nutrition education at all (CDC). This is extremely concerning, as health conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are rooted in poor food and beverage choices.
There are various reasons why there is a lack of nutrition education for students. Although it is a requirement that schools participating in School Breakfast Club and the National School Lunch Program develop a wellness policy, these policies are generally vague and do not require schools to take action. Additionally, teachers may have limited lesson flexibility, and, as a result, they may have few opportunities to introduce new topics into their plans. Lastly, teachers often lack the necessary training to teach students about nutrition and, therefore, are unable to implement the subject into their curriculum. (Beckwith et al.)
As such, there must be a shift in the way educators value and incorporate nutrition education into elementary school education. Schools are a formative part of childrens’ lives, and they have the ability to impact students’ food and beverage choices with proper nutrition education.