Section 71
Chapter 70,037

Diet quality of elementary and middle school teachers is associated with healthier nutrition-related classroom practices

Parker, E.A.; Feinberg, T.M.; Lane, H.G.; Deitch, R.; Zemanick, A.; Saksvig, B.I.; Turner, L.; Hager, E.R.

Preventive Medicine Reports 18: 101087


ISSN/ISBN: 2211-3355
PMID: 32309116
DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101087
Accession: 070036583

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Many schools have implemented policies and programs to address childhood obesity. However, few have evaluated obesity-related health behaviors among teachers, or how these behaviors may be associated with teachers' nutrition-related practices in the classroom setting. This cross-sectional study utilized data from teachers employed in 20 schools representing three public school districts in a mid-Atlantic state from 2017 to 2019 to examine associations between teachers' diet quality and their nutrition-related classroom practices (e.g. rewarding students with food; modeling healthy diet behaviors). Measures included: one 24-h dietary recall summarized via healthy eating index (HEI-2015; higher scores indicate better diet quality; Range: 0-100); demographics, self-reported height/weight (BMI; ≥25 kg/m2 = overweight/obese), and nutrition-related classroom practices (10 item survey; sum score range: 0-40; alpha = 0.65; higher score = more health-promoting practices). Associations between HEI and nutrition-related classroom practices were assessed in multilevel models, adjusting for covariates (gender, race/ethnicity, age, income, BMI, years teaching) and controlling for within-school effects. Of 331 teachers recruited, 116 (35.0%) completed both the optional dietary recall and incentivized survey (analytic sample: 89% female; 45% black; 79% overweight/obese; BMI = 30.5 ± 7.1; aged 41.1 ± 11.8 years). Means and standard deviations were calculated for HEI (52.2 ± 12.2) and nutrition-related classroom practices sum score (25.4 ± 5.9). For every one-unit increase in HEI, there was a 0.20 increase in nutrition-related classroom practices score (SE = 0.05; p < 0.001), which remained significant in the adjusted model. To better inform obesity prevention efforts, future studies should collect data among both students and teachers and explore the mechanisms through which teacher health behaviors may impact student health behaviors.

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