08 SES 12, The Role of Food and Sleep in Education and Health Promotion
Food and health have long had a dominant position within the subject of Home economics (HE) in Sweden. HE, has food and health at its core; and is characterized by the fact that students actually are expected to learn how to prepare healthy food. According to the Swedish national syllabus, the broad aim of the school subject is to help students achieve the ability to make informed choices from an environment, economic and health perspective, and to develop practical knowledge of food, nutrition and cooking in relation to health (National Agency for Education, 2011). The aim of the subject states that food and health is to be taught, but what content do the teachers actually choose to teach?
Education about the concept and processes of ‘‘food literacy’’ as a way of bringing food choices, nutrition knowledge, and food preparation skills together is relatively new. The concept food literacy is, however, difficult to define, not least because literacy can mean different things for different people (Kickbusch, 2001). A number of studies have given different directives as to what characterizes to be food literate (Truman et al, 2017). Commonly definitions of food literacy includes different knowledge and its relation to food, meals and health, where the term aims to discuss and broaden the perspectives of food and health and its different impact on human lives (Begler & Vidgen, 2016). According to Benn (2014), food literacy may contribute to a critical and constructive perspective on teaching food and health and includes knowledge regarding nutrition, meals and cooking. Pendergast (2011), refer to the concept of food literacy as;
“the capacity of an individual to obtain, interpret and understand basic food and nutrition information and services as well as the competence to use that information and available services that are health enhancing” (Pendergast, 2011. p. 418)
Furthermore Pendegast (2011) takes Nutbeams’ (2000) three categories of health literacy functional, interactive, and critical health literacy, to analyze and discuss data regarding communication of food and nutrition as food literacy (Pendegast, 2011). This is defined in a in a thematic scheme inspired by St. Leger (2001).
St. Leger (2001) has taken Nutbeams’ categories of health literacy further by developing them in a school context. The classroom may be an ideal environment for education aimed at increasing knowledge, developing skills, and forming attitudes to encourage children to make healthy lifestyle choices. The school subject HE has been pointed out as an important food- and health- promoting arena (Lichtenstein & Ludwig, 2010).
The aim of this study is to analyze and discuss HE teachers’ construction of content regarding food in relation to health in HE. Furthermore, based on our results we will discuss what potential educational outcomes these constructions of content may provide to students regarding how to make conscious and motivated choices of food in relation to health. This is done by discussing teachers’ constructions of the knowledge content of food in relation to Nutbeam’s (2000) dimensions of health literacy.
Focusgroup interview was chosen as a method of data collection. Six interviews in four different cities with a total of 27 HE-teachers were conducted. The focus groups where conducted with participants, who all teach HE. The participants were selected based on their geographical location, because of the practical aspects of organizing focus groups, but they worked in a variety of schools, in a range of socio-economic areas (cf. Krueger and Casey, 2000). Each focus group interview lasted 60-80 minutes. An interview guide was prepared including three topics: food, health, and the curricula, with a couple of questions for each topic. However, the participants were to a large extent free to discuss issues they felt important concerning the topics (cf. Patton, 2002). All interviews were were audio-recorded and fully transcribed for analysis. Discourse analysis is, a method of investigation focused on the construction of meaning through language (Lupton, 1992). Within communication it is possible to elucidate different discourses, which can be understood as systematic ways of talking about a topic, in this case education about food in relation to health. In particular, we wished to identify the construction of food in relation to health, the ways in which they described their education and how they express these ideas using specific educational activities. With inspiration from Lupton (1992) the analytical process focused on the structure of the participants' explanations and the words, phrases, and concepts they used to describe the knowledge content of food in relation to health. The analytical process was conducted in three steps. First we identified issues and themes of relevance by noting words or phrases in the transcript text. Second, the identified words and phrases were coded in relation to what aspect of educational activity that was described. Thirdly, the meanings given by the participants to food in relation to health in their described education are analyzed as patterns and regularity in teachers' choice of goals, purposes and teaching strategies.
The results indicate that the teacher's perception of what the knowledge content of food in relation to health should include varies. Three different discourses were identified and represent different constructing of content. The identified discourses are; i) Teaching knowledge of facts, ii) Teaching practical skills, iii) Teaching analytical ability. These discourses represent different ways of teaching food in relation to health as well as different perceptions of what didactic methods are considered best suited. i) Teaching knowledge of facts This discourse is about the communication of information. The teacher describes transformation of basic information about nutrition as a way of increasing knowledge of the biomedical factors that improve physical health as well as how to avoid risk factors. Examples of educational activity are classroom-based lessons, reading books, and memorizing facts of nutrients. ii) Teaching practical skills This discourse is about development of personal skills, such as the ability to plan, shop, prepare and cook a nutritious meal. The practical process of learning is described as important in order to learn the essentials about food in relation to health. The education should give opportunities to develop specific skills of cooking technique, food preparation, comparing groceries and reading ingredient lists. Activities are conducted in small group in the kitchen units, recipes are to be followed, and, ingredients are compared and analyzed. iii) Teaching analytical ability This discourse is about personal and community empowerment, about addressing social inequities, and determinates of health. The capacity to analyze, reflect and discuss food related activities, behavior and lifestyles. For example, aspects of fair trade and the food production chain can be highlighted in education. Examples of educational activity are school assignment of interdisciplinary perspective on describing a meal ingredients based on its food chain and its different impacts on the local and global environment.
Benn, Jette. (2014). Food, nutrition or cooking literacy-a review of concepts and competencies regarding food education. International Journal of Home Economics. Vol 7 No 1. Begley Andrea, Vidgen, Helen. (2016). Use of the term food literacy. I: Vidgen H, redaktör. Food Literacy, key concepts for health and education. New York: Routledge; 17-34. Kickbusch, Ilona S (2001). Health literacy: addressing the health and education divide. Health Promotion International. 16. 289-297 Lawrence St Leger. (2001). Schools, health literacy and public health: possibilities and challenges. Health Promotion International. 16(2):197-205. Lichtenstein, Alice H, Ludwig, David S. (2010). Bring Back Home Economics Education. JAMA. ; 303(18): 1857-8. Lupton, Deborah. (1992). Discourse analysis: a new methodology for understanding the ideologies of health and illness. Australian Journal of Public Health 16(2), 145±150. National Agency for Education, 2011. Skolverket. Läroplan för grundskolan, förskoleklassen och fritidshem-met 2011. Nutbeam, Don. (2000). Health literacy as a public health goal: a challenge for contem-porary health education and communication strategies into the 21stcentury, Health Promotion International, 15 (3): 259-267. Patton, Michael Quinn (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. 3. ed. London: SAGE Pendergast, Donna, Garvis, Susanne, Kanasa, Harry (2011). Insight from the Public on Home Economics and Formal Food Literacy. Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal. 39(4): Truman, Emily, Lane, Daniel, Elliott, Charlene (2017). Defining food literacy: A scoping review Appetite.116 (1): 365-371 Krueger Richard A. & Casey Mary Anne (2000). Focus Groups. A Practical Guide for Applied Research (3rd Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 206 pages,
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