Allowing and Using Foods of Low Nutritional Value in Elementary School Classrooms: The Implications of Teachers' Beliefs

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To investigate elementary teachers' behavior toward allowing and using foods with low nutritional value in the classroom.


A survey guided by the Theory of Planned Behavior was administered in fall, 2012 in 10 schools.


Elementary public school teachers in grades pre-kindergarten through 6.

Main Outcome Measures:

Teachers' behavior and beliefs regarding allowing and using foods with low nutritional value in the classroom and Theory of Planned Behavior determinants.


Pairwise correlation coefficients and multivariate linear regression to assess relationships between theory determinants and descriptive statistics.


All 3 determinants, Attitude Toward the Behavior (t = 4.04; P < .01), Subjective Norms (t = 3.78; P < .01), and Perceived Behavioral Control (t = 5.19; p < .01), were statistically significant predictors of behavior. The majority of teachers (94%) allowed foods of low nutritional value for celebrations at least some of the time, and 75% stated that they had control over what foods they allow.

Conclusions and Implications:

Discussions among teachers and school health professionals should ensue to improve nutritional content of foods allowed in classrooms. School policies can be developed and evaluated for effectiveness to have a positive impact on childhood obesity and school nutrition environments.

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