Strategies Promoting Healthy Food Choices among Pupils in Nyeri County, Kenya
Runo, Waithaka Simon
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In Kenya, nutrition education is included in the school curriculum as recommended in the year 2009 national school health policy. Nevertheless, policy advocacy and communication strategies on nutrition are relatively weak, and there is insufficient focus on operational research on nutrition. In addition, nutrition education is not taught as a standalone subject and is only infused in science subjects. Consequently, the malnutrition problem is not as well understood as it could be. Modern malnutrition consists in over-consumption of energy dense and fatty foods. These have led to an upsurge of noncommunicable and lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes, bone and heart conditions. Therefore, there was need to find out strategies on eating habits in order to help pupils acquire discriminative skills among foods. The pupils can act as agents of change in the community through the symbiotic relationship that exists between the school and the society. This will be the first stage towards curbing the food- related health problem. The purpose of this study was to establish strategies promoting healthy food choices among pupils. The Health Belief Model as a predictor of preventive health behaviour was the guide theory for this research. The study was mainly descriptive in design with purposive sampling. The target population was pupils in Nyeri County with their teachers and parents. Data collection tools were semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions, food diary, and FFQ. Data was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively guided by the themes from research objectives. Quantitative data was analyzed using basic descriptive statistics and presented in form of tables, pie charts, graphs, and percentages. The Qualitative analysis involved narrative records and respondents’ quotations. The study established strategies that would promote healthy food choices key among them being healthy snacking. The study findings may be used by the Ministry of education to inform nutrition education content in the school curriculum.