Digging into the concept of whether you can teach what you don't know, a recent survey by researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health sought to uncover the health and nutrition knowledge --and practices-- of a group of teachers.
Two of the questions asked of almost 200 Head Start teachers in Texas:
- Do you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables we should eat each day? What about which of the five food groups we should be consuming most?
- Now stop and think about your diet yesterday. Did you eat enough fruit and vegetables, and consume enough grains?
Turns out most didn’t have the best habits, according to survey results published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Of the 173 teachers interviewed, only four answered at least four of the five nutrition questions correctly. More than half -- 54% -- of the teachers said they found it difficult to figure out the right answer.
Researchers were particularly concerned that just 9% believed their own nutrition habits were healthy. One quarter of all teachers did not consume any fruits or vegetables the previous day, and over half had eaten French fries. Of the 173 teachers surveyed, a majority were women and over 50% were obese.
Nutrition training would “better enable them to teach nutrition education to their students and to improve their own health,” the study's authors said. It would also make the teachers better role models.
University of Texas researcher Shreela Sharma told Reuters Health that the teachers “want to do right, they're there because they love their kids, we just need to provide them with the tools that they need to make this environment healthier."
And going back to that question of whether one can teach what one doesn't know -- in this case, to our own kids -- did you answer the sample questions correctly?
The answers are:
- Grains is the food group we should eat from the most – between six and eleven servings per day.
- Each person should consume at least three servings of fruit per day, and three to five servings of vegetables per day. And no, French fries don’t count.