Influence of Nutrition Knowledge on 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 explore the impact of nutrition education on eating habits in order to help pupils acquire discriminative skills that can enable them make healthy food choices. 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 determine the contributions of nutrition education in enabling pupils to make healthy food choices. 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 as the key sampling technique. 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 findings showed that nutrition education was absent from people’s lives and healthy eating was not sustained. The study findings may be used by the Ministry of education to inform nutrition education content in the school curriculum.