The current policy regarding the meals provided by pre-primary schools in Hong Kong is merely a set of guidelines that, although not practical or even properly implemented, provide suggestions for healthy meals that are beneficial to children. As a result, children have developed poor eating habits that have resulted in an increase in childhood obesity, among other health problems. Some of these health issues even continue through primary school. This study points out why the enforcement of the existing policy failed and the reasons that it was and is not properly applied by early childhood educators. It also addresses whether these educators act as role-models for healthy eating habits or take part in designing and providing healthy meals for their students. School life is a critical opportunity for young children to acquire and practice healthy lifestyles. School settings provide valuable resources for influencing health-related habits through policy measures, education, and food provision. In this study, a self-administered questionnaire survey was used to assess 58 early childhood educators. These educators were also Hong Kong Early Childhood Education students, with one group studying in the first year of a two-year higher diploma (n 28) and the other group studying in the second year of a three-year Bachelor Degree (n 30) in-service training programme. The survey studied a variety of elements, such as the related knowledge of the teachers, school nutrition policies, and the educational background of those who oversee nutrition-related services. The researcher found that the school meals did not meet nutritional standards and the early childhood educators’ perceptions of what constitutes a healthy diet was also found to be weak. Most of the respondents agreed that training the people who plan the school meal menus and cook the meals is not enough. This study provides an overview of the perceptions of early childhood educators about health and their understanding of the implementation of guidelines for nutrition and meals in Hong Kong pre-primary education. Copyright © 2011 The Hong Kong Institute of Education.
|Journal||Hong Kong Journal of Early Childhood|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2011|