Low-fat, no-fat, and sugar free: An examination of children’s knowledge of nutrition, food preferences and television use (pp. 283-290)
Authors: Kim Bissell
Abstract: The prevalence of childhood obesity remains a critical issue as the number of children being diagnosed as overweight or obese is continuing to rise. This study examined 602 3rd-6th grade children’s time spent viewing television, their nutritional knowledge, their nutritional reasoning, their food preferences, and their dietary behavior at home and at school to determine which factors were stronger predictors of children’s nutritional knowledge. Using a survey, students were presented with food pairs increasing in difficulty and asked to select the food they thought was most capable of helping them grow up to be healthy and strong. A nutritional knowledge scale was constructed and then compared with other predictor variables to identify the factors related to higher or lower knowledge scores. Regression analysis indicates that television viewing was related to increased levels of nutritional knowledge. Television viewing was also related to a stronger preference for unhealthy foods across the sample. Children in the sample further perceived the food they consumed at school to be significantly healthier than the food they consumed at home. Demographic variables proved to be strong predictors of students’ nutritional knowledge and also proved to be a significant predictor of students’ preferences toward healthy food. Children across demographic groups believed the foods they received in school lunch and breakfast programs were healthy and high in nutritional value even though the actual food consumed was similar to what was consumed at home.