© Borgis - New Medicine 2/2010, s. 45-49
*Sylwia Merkiel, Wojciech Chalcarz
Nutritional knowledge of the preschool staff from Nowy Sącz and the vicinity. Part 1. General principles of nutrition during childhood
Food and Nutrition Department of the Eugeniusz Piasecki University School of Physical Education in Poznań
Head of the Department: Dr hab. Wojciech Chalcarz, prof. nadzw. AWF
Aim. The aim of this study was to assess knowledge about general principles of nutrition during childhood in preschool staff from Nowy Sącz and the vicinity.
Material and methods. Questionnaires were filled in by 84 women who worked in eight preschools in Nowy Sącz and the vicinity. The questions concerned general principles of nutrition during childhood and general information about the studied staff. Statistical analysis was carried out by means of the SPSS 12.0 PL for Windows computer programme. The studied population was divided according to educational status.
Results. Educational status had a statistically significant influence on the position, the period of being employed in a preschool, age, marital status and number of children and on the answers to six questions concerning general principles of nutrition during childhood.
Conclusions. The level of knowledge about general principles of nutrition during childhood was varied among the studied preschool staff depending on their educational status, with the highest level of knowledge in the staff with higher education. It is particularly unfavourable that the staff with vocational education, most of whom prepared meals for children, were characterised by the lowest level of knowledge. The observed gaps in the studied staff's knowledge about general principles of nutrition during childhood indicate the need to include this issue in the educational programmes for both preschool teachers and kitchen staff.
Nutritional knowledge of preschool staff is an important factor which affects children's food behaviour. It refers to those members of staff who are involved in planning menus and preparing meals for the children, since they have a direct influence on what children eat during their stay in the preschool. It also refers to teachers and directors, who are not only responsible for the children's preschool education but also – when having meals together with children – are an example for them to follow. The fact that children can learn food behaviour from their teachers' example was shown by an experiment carried out by Hendy and Raudenbush (1).
Published studies have shown that preschool menus are not balanced (2, 3) and that preschool children's parents are characterised by a low level of nutritional knowledge (4-7). Assessing nutritional knowledge of Polish preschool staff has so far been the aim of only one study (8).
The aim of this study was to assess knowledge about general principles of nutrition during childhood in preschool staff from Nowy Sącz and the vicinity.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Questionnaires were filled in by 84 women who worked in eight preschools in Nowy Sącz and the vicinity. The studied population included all persons employed in those preschools who agreed to take part in the study. The questions concerned general principles of nutrition during childhood and general information about the studied staff.
Statistical analysis was carried out by means of the SPSS 12.0 PL for Windows computer programme. The studied population was divided according to educational status into three subgroups: staff with vocational education, staff with secondary education, and staff with higher education, that is those who graduated from university.
Table 1 presents general characteristics of the studied preschool staff by educational status. Educational status had a statistically significant influence on all of the analysed variables.
Table 1. General characteristics of the studied preschool staff.
|No.||Parameter||Education||All staff (n=84)|
|Vocational (n=21)||Secondary (n=33)||Higher (n=30)|
|2.||Duration of employment in a preschool [%]||≤10 years||38.1||21.2||43.3||33.3|
|>10 years to 20 years||9.5||36.4||36.7||29.8|
|3.||Age [years]||mean ? standard deviation||44.7 ? 5.4 a, b||40.2 ? 7.6 a, c||35.6 ? 9.8 b, c||39.7 ? 8.7|
|4.||Marital status [%]||Unmarried||4.8||3.0||23.3||10.7|
|5.||Number of children [%]||None||4.8||17.2||30.0||18.8|
Bold type denotes statistically significant results (p≤0.05).
The same letters denote a statistically significant difference between the subgroups (p≤0.05).
All the directors, 13.3% and 83.3% of teachers had higher education. Most of the staff with secondary education were employed as teachers (66.7%), and the highest percentage of staff with vocational education (42.9%) worked as cook's assistants. Among the staff with vocational and secondary education, the highest percentage of the women had worked in a preschool for more than 20 years (52.4% and 42.4%, respectively), whereas among the staff with higher education the highest percentage of the women had worked in a preschool for not more than 10 years (43.3%). Mean age of the staff with higher education was the lowest (35.6 years) and mean age of the staff with vocational education was the highest (44.7 years). The highest percentage of the staff with vocational education (90.5%) and the lowest percentage of the staff with higher education (73.3%) were married. Among the staff with vocational education, most had two or three children (33.3% each), whereas among the staff with secondary and higher education, most had two children (31.0% and 36.7%, respectively).
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