Date of Award

5-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Nutrition

Major Professor

Melissa B. Hansen-Petrik

Committee Members

Katherine Kavanagh, Sean Durham

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe the nutrition knowledge and child care feeding practices of Early Childhood Education students in a university setting. Thirty-three Early Childhood Education students from seven geographically diverse universities completed a web-based survey assessing nutrition knowledge and child feeding practices. A nutrition knowledge instrument was developed and validated to measure knowledge of nutrition for preschool-aged children. The Comprehensive Feeding Practices Questionnaire, which has been previously validated in parents, was slightly modified and used to assess child feeding practices. Mean scores for the nutrition knowledge and child feeding practices were determined. Multivariate analyses were conducted to determine differences in mean nutrition knowledge and feeding practices scores across sample characteristics. Early Childhood Education students were found to have more knowledge of MyPyramid food groups and dietary sources of nutrients than dietary intake recommendations for preschool-aged children. Students who had completed a college-level nutrition course scored higher on MyPyramid food groups and food sources of nutrients than those who had not, although these differences were not statistically significant. A nonsignificant trend was observed in knowledge of dietary recommendations according to practicum status. Additionally, students who had not started a practicum reported using food as a reward significantly more than students who had completed a practicum. Results suggest roles for both nutrition coursework and practicum training in optimizing nutrition knowledge and child feeding practices among future leaders in early childhood education. Further research is needed to more clearly identify nutrition knowledge and child feeding practices in this population.

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