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To explore the perceptions of educators from the Western Cape Province about the feasibility of implementing South African food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) in the national curriculum of primary schools.
Combined quantitative and qualitative methods. We report on the quantitative component.
Twelve public primary schools of different socio-economic status in three education districts of the Western Cape: Metro Central, Metro East and Cape Winelands.
Educators (n 256) participated in the self-completed questionnaire survey.
Educators assessed that FBDG were appropriate to South African schoolchildren (94%), could be used as an education tool (97%) and fill gaps in the current curriculum about healthy dietary habits (91%). Besides Life Orientation, FBDG could be taught in other learning areas from grades 3 to 7 (9–13 years old). Important barriers to implementing FBDG in the curriculum were educators’ workload (61%), insufficient time (46%), learners’ disadvantaged background (43%) and educators’ lack of knowledge (33%). Other approaches to teach children about FBDG included linking these to the National School Nutrition Programme (82%), school tuck shops (79%), parent meetings (75%), school nutrition policy (73%) and school assembly (57%). Educators in high-income schools perceived that learners’ lifestyle was significantly worse (P < 0·001) and that tuck shops and the school assembly were the best means to teach pupils about FBDG (P < 0·001 and P < 0·05).
Implementing FBDG in the national school curriculum is seen as important together with optimizing the school physical environment. Key factors required for successful implementation in the curriculum are sufficient educational materials, adequate time allocation and appropriate educator training.
To identify and describe factors associated with food shop (known as tuck shop in South Africa) and lunchbox behaviours of primary-school learners in South Africa.
Analysis of data collected in 2008 from a cross-sectional survey.
Sixteen primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa.
A total of 717 grade 4 learners aged 10–12 years.
A 24 h recall established that 69 % of learners carried a lunchbox to school and 49 % had consumed at least one item purchased from the school food shop/vendor. Most lunchboxes contained white bread with processed meat, whereas the most frequent food shop/vendor purchase comprised chips/crisps. Learners who carried a lunchbox to school had significantly lower BMI percentiles (P = 0·002) and BMI-for-age (P = 0·034), compared with their counterparts. Moreover, they were younger, had higher standard-of-living and dietary diversity scores, consumed more meals per day, had greater self-efficacy and came from predominantly urban schools, compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school. Learners who ate food shop/vendor purchases had a lower standard-of-living score and higher dietary diversity and meal scores. Only 2 % of learners were underweight, whereas 19 % were stunted and 21 % were overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2).
Children who carried a lunchbox to school appeared to have greater dietary diversity, consumed more regular meals, had a higher standard of living and greater nutritional self-efficacy compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school.
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