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School-based nutrition education: features and challenges for success

Mojisola D. Kupolati (Department of Human Nutrition, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Una E. MacIntyre (Department of Human Nutrition, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Gerda J. Gericke (Department of Human Nutrition, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 10 November 2014




The aim of this review is to critically assess published articles on school-based nutrition education (NE) intervention to identify factors hindering or contributing to the success of interventions. School-based NE possesses the capacity to influence learners’ nutrition behaviours.


An electronic search of articles was conducted in Medline, PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature databases, Google and snowballing. Included in the review were school-based studies with classroom NE with or without nutrition services and studies published between 2000 and 2013. School-based non-intervention studies and interventions that did not include a nutrition teaching component were excluded in the review.


Thirty-nine studies met the inclusion criteria. Features of successful NE interventions included the use of behavioural theories, especially the social cognitive theory and the involvement of trained teachers in the implementation of interventions. Capacity development for teachers, time constraints, school policies and implementation problems of multicomponent interventions were some of the identified challenges encountered in the studies reviewed.


Trained teachers are invaluable assets in interventions to improve nutrition behaviours of learners. Challenges associated with teacher-oriented school-based NE intervention can be overcome by properly designed and implemented interventions based on behavioural theory.



The authors acknowledge financial support from the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being (IFNuW) of the University of Pretoria.


Kupolati, M.D., MacIntyre, U.E. and Gericke, G.J. (2014), "School-based nutrition education: features and challenges for success", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 520-535.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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