|dc.description.abstract||Background: Childhood obesity is a worldwide problem and a well-known cause of this is nutrition, in the form of an unhealthy diet, combined with a lack of physical activity. Whilst consuming a nutritious diet can benefit obesity outcomes, there are additional benefits of consuming nutritious foods for health that need to be recognised. Nutrition can affect growth and development, bone health, brain development, mental health, disease and illness, and sleep. Educating children on the far-ranging effects of food may enhance nutrition behaviour, whilst promoting a positive relationship with food. Before we can educate children, it is essential that we gain an insight into what New Zealand children currently know about the effect of food on health, as little research has been undertaken in this area.
Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to trial methodology that could ascertain what 9-11-year old children in New Zealand currently know, understand and believe about the effect of food on their health.
Design: This qualitative study recruited Year 6 children from a range of schools within the West and South Auckland regions of New Zealand. Researchers conducted one or two focus groups in each school during which children were asked questions relating to health, being healthy and the effect of food on health. All focus groups were transcribed and analysed using Nvivo12 software and thematic analysis was undertaken to identify main themes and sub themes.
Results: In total 11 focus groups including 74 children participated in this study, from three schools in West Auckland and three schools in South Auckland (deciles ranged from 2 to 8). Children consistently identified being physically active, eating fruits and vegetables and eating a balanced diet as important components of being healthy. After conducting thematic analysis, four main themes were generated regarding the effect of food on health. These were; growth and development; protecting from disease and illness; providing energy; and learning at school. This study also identified common misconceptions of children about energy and protein containing foods.
Conclusion: Findings from this pilot study indicate that focus groups are a feasible method to ascertain what year 6 children in New Zealand know, understand and believe about the effect of food on health. Future research should focus on these common misconceptions the children have and investigate the influences in children’s lives causing these misconceptions.||