Pre-service health and physical education teachers’ obesity-related nutrition knowledge and food habits

Thea Werkhoven (Lead Author), Wayne Cotton, Kate Russell

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This study aimed to quantify the levels of nutrition knowledge of pre-service health and physical education teachers as well as their ability to provide suitable weight-based advice to overweight adolescents. The influence of degree progression, gender and their own food habits on knowledge and ability was also assessed. Pre-service health and physical educators (n=72) were surveyed at three consecutive points in their degree with a questionnaire designed to extract information on demographics, food habits, nutrition knowledge related to obesity and knowledge about obesity counselling. Degree progression resulted in improvements to nutrition knowledge, as expected. When surveyed just prior to degree completion, scores on repeated measures reflect inaccuracies in obesity related nutrition knowledge and the propensity to advocate inappropriate weight-control advice to future overweight students. Females had higher levels of obesity-related nutrition knowledge than males. Gender was also significantly associated with obesity counselling knowledge among students in their second and fourth years of study and with dieting behaviours in second- and third-year students, with female students more likely to diet for weight control than their male peers. These results identify the need for further research into methods of increasing nutrition knowledge and obesity counselling skills in pre-service health and physical education teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-11
JournalJournal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Pre service teachers
  • PE teachers
  • nutrition knowledge
  • Food Habits

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