The results of Master´s thesis study indicate that knowledge of healthy foods did not always result in preferences for healthy food.
Children’s health and wellbeing is a worldwide concern. Health problems such as anemia, obesity and nutrition-related noncommunicable disease are prevalent among school aged children. In adults, nutrition knowledge has been proven to positively impact food choice and overall health, including reduction of noncommunicable disease. The possibility of this relationship occurring in preschool children and thus offering equivalent health benefits in children was explored. This study compared nutrition knowledge and preferences of 4 to 6-year-old Finnish and Indian preschool students. The study was conducted within the context of the FINDIgATE project, which focuses on the wellbeing of children in India and Finland and is intended to contribute to the overall improvement of wellbeing in children.
The results of this thesis indicate a high level of nutrition knowledge and preference for healthy food as well as a contradictory preference for unhealthy food, which indicates a disconnect between knowledge and attitudes. The demographic variables of age, gender, nationality and BMI show no statistical difference between the groups regarding preference and knowledge except in two areas. There was a statistically significant difference between nationalities, Finnish and Indian, in preference (p=0.000) towards healthy foods and ignorance (p=0.032) regarding unhealthy food.
The results of this study indicate that knowledge of healthy foods did not always result in preferences for healthy food. Further research is needed to identify the relationships and causal factors between knowledge and preference among preschool children. However, the importance of limiting unhealthy food options and increasing health knowledge of caretakers is supported.
The key to increasing preschool children’s’ nutrition and preferences may include increasing children’s’ health knowledge but also requires additional support. This support should come from caretakers and policies which support nutritious food. This research supports continued guidance by educated adults, especially within the school system, to ensure the healthy diet and habits of preschool children resulting in lifelong health benefits. The FINDIgATE project’s goal of supporting wellbeing in schools in Finland and India is complementary to the results of this study and can support future studies and innovations to enhance nutrition education.
This study was completed as the thesis for a Master’s degree in Global Development and Management in Healthcare at Laurea UAS, Vantaa Finland.
Global Development and Management in Health Care
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