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Why is Nutrition Education Important?

Why is Nutrition Education Important?

Why is Nutrition Education Important?
Discussion Nutrition in The Classroom

Previous studies have shown that nutrition
education in the classroom provides numerous
benefits to children’s health outcomes and
academic performance:
Nutrition education should become an integral
part of a normal school day for elementary aged
kids and should entail discussion, education, and
activities that promote increased knowledge of
nutrition and expanded healthy options at home
and at school. This policy brief will elaborate on
the benefits of nutrition education and review
current nutrition education practices in
Minneapolis schools. In addition, this brief will
provide suggestions for integrating nutrition
education into the existing curriculum in
Minneapolis schools.
Why is Nutrition Education Important?
Improvements in Students’ Health
Elementary schools are an environment where
young people spend many hours of their day. As
a result, implementing nutrition education in
this environment is a convenient and strategic
way of positively influencing children’s
nutrition knowledge and eating behaviors [2].
Providing specific nutrition education has been
shown to have multiple benefits in studies that
have been done across the United States:
● Increased likelihood of children creating
healthy habits at a young age [4].
● Decreased risk of obesity among elementary
students who have participated in nutrition
education [1]
● Improved cognitive development and a
potential to decrease behavioral outbursts in
an educational setting [5]
● Increased nutrition knowledge and selfefficacy as well as decreased BMI and waist

Benefits at Home
By encouraging children to engage in healthy
behaviors, the stage is being set for them to have
better health outcomes later in life.
The benefits of nutrition education in the
classroom also carry over into students’ homes.
● Parents of students who participated in a
nutrition cooking intervention noted an
expansion in family conversations about
healthy food and an increase in how often
their children helped prepare dinner [3].
● As a consequence of nutrition education,
there was a increase in the importance
parents placed on sharing a family meal
together at home [3].
Improved Academic Performance
In addition to enhancing students’ physical
health outcomes and interest in healthy foods at
home, proper nutrition may improve students’
academic performance in the classroom.
● One study examined the academic
performance of children in the 5th and 6th
grade, and researchers discovered students
who had healthier habits were significantly
more likely to meet academic test score
targets [5].

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○ With improved test scores, schools can
obtain more funding from the state
government, which can be used to
supply and maintain classroom
equipment needed to educate the next
generation of students.
● Furthermore, previous studies exhibited an
association between lower math and reading
scores with high levels of fast food
consumption amongst fifth graders [6].
Not only is nutrition education necessary to
build a base of healthy lifestyle choices for
children to lead healthy, happy, and productive
lives but it is also an important part of helping
the child perform to their best ability
academically. Combined, the results of
nutrition education increases quality of life for
the child and also improves test scores for the
child and in turn increase school funding from
the state and federal governments, improving
the quality of local schools.
Current Nutrition Education in the
Minneapolis School District
Current nutrition education curriculum
in the Minneapolis school district is minimal
and currently does not provide set guidelines on
how to teach nutrition in elementary schools [7].
The curriculum is broken into two groups for
elementary school aged children: Pre-K through
Second grade, and Third through Fifth grade.
● In Pre-K through Second grade, it is
suggested that students be able to define
nutrition, identify the role food plays in
health, identify food groups, and recognize
healthy snacks.
● For Third through Fifth grade, the
recommendations for nutrition education
include listing foods from food groups,
identify servings, effects of caloric intake,
and safe food handling [7].
While these nutrition education standards
outline nutrition-related learning objectives, the
existing curriculum does not provide any
guidance in how these topics should be taught
and presented to the students. There are multiple
ways that nutrition education can be taught in
order to meet these objectives.

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