Examination of Head Start students' and teachers' attitudes and behaviors toward trying new foods as part of a social marketing campaign

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Virginia Tech

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.

Food Friends, Head Start, teachers, preschool, food neophobia