The Nutritional Knowledge, Eating Habits, and Body Image of Adolescent Females
Gray, Sarah K.
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This mixed methods investigation examined the nutritional knowledge and habits of adolescent girls in grades 9 through 12 at a secondary school in southern Ontario. Through questionnaires, interviews, and the use of teaching and curriculum documents, this study attempted to understand whether the current nutrition curriculum is influential in developing students' nutritional knowledge, healthy eating habits, and a favourable body image. Data collection occurred over a 2-month period, involving 90 female participants, and the data analysis program SPSS was used for analysis of the quantitative questionnaire data. Interview data were organized into categories, and analysis of any emerging themes occurred. Teaching and curriculum documents were examined to determine any overlap and develop an understanding of the participants' exposure and experience within nutrition within the classroom setting. The findings of this study suggest that the current nutrition education did have an impact on the participants' nutrition knowledge. However, the impact on their eating habits and body image was limited in the context it was measured and tested. The knowledge learned within the classroom may not always be applied outside of the classroom. This study suggests that improvement in the current nutrition curriculum may be needed to have a bigger impact on adolescent females. The findings from the study shine light on areas of improvements for educators as well as development of future curriculum. Changes may need to be made not only in the specific curriculum content and expectations but also the delivery of it by the classroom teacher.