Examination of Head Start students' and teachers' attitudes and behaviors toward trying new foods as part of a social marketing campaign
Objective: To determine the impact of preschool teacher food-related attitudes and behaviors on child food behaviors.
Design: A twelve-week intervention and observational study with teachers completing questionnaires before and after the intervention.
Setting: Head Start classrooms throughout Virginia.
Participants: 177 preschool Head Start teachers and 1534 children.
Intervention(s): Food Friends, a twelve-week social marketing campaign, was conducted by Head Start teachers during the Spring 2007, introducing children to novel foods with food puppets, nutrition-related activities and novel food tasting opportunities. Hypotheses related to the impact of preschool teachers' food-related attitudes and behaviors on children's food behaviors were tested, and changes in teacher and child food behaviors were measured.
Main Outcome Measures: Teacher food-related attitudes and behaviors were measured/quantified. Child food behaviors were measured and compared to teacher attitudes and behaviors.
Analysis: Descriptive, correlational and t-test statistics were conducted.
Results: Teachers' and children's acceptance of novel foods improved after the Food Friends program, however, no direct correlations were found between teacher food-related attitudes and behaviors and child food behaviors.
Conclusions and Implications: Preschool teacher attitudes and behaviors may not significantly impact child food-related behaviors. More research is needed to determine effective ways of encouraging positive child food behaviors.