Nutrition Knowledge, Attitudes, and Fruit and Vegetable Intake as Predictors ofHead StartTeachers' Classroom Mealtime Behaviors

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Objective:To examine the association between nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and fruit/vegetable intake among Head Start teachers and their classroom mealtime behaviors (self-reported and observed).Design:Cross-sectional design using observation and survey.Setting:Sixteen Head Start centers across Rhode Island between September, 2014 and May, 2015.Participants:Teachers were e-mailed about the study by directors and were recruited during on-site visits. A total of 85 participants enrolled through phone/e-mail (19%) or in person (81%).Main Outcome Measures:Independent variables were nutrition knowledge, attitudes, and fruit/vegetable intake. The dependent variable was classroom mealtime behaviors (self-reported and observed).Analysis:Regression analyses conducted on teacher mealtime behavior were examined separately for observation and self-report, with knowledge, attitudes, and fruit and vegetable intake as independent variables entered into the models, controlling for covariates.Results:Nutrition attitudes were positively associated with teacher self-reported classroom mealtime behavior total score. Neither teacher nutrition knowledge nor fruit/vegetable intake was associated with observed or self-reported classroom mealtime behavior total scores.Conclusion and Implications:There was limited support for associations among teacher knowledge, attitudes, and fruit/vegetable intake, and teacher classroom mealtime behavior. Findings showed that teacher mealtime behavior was significantly associated with teacher experience.

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