An Investigation of Nutrition in Selected Early Childhood Education Centres in Lusaka, Zambia
Keywords: Nutrition, balanced diet, foods, children’s foods
AbstractLiterature underscores an association between nutrition and learning. However, less is known on the nutritional value of foods that children bring in early childhood centres and its implications on general well-being and consequently learning in early childhood education (ECE) centres in Zambia. This article reports the findings of a research that investigated the type of foods and drinks that children in ECE centres bring from home and their nutritional value. The study employed a case study research design. Data generation methods included qualitative methods using observations and interviews in ten ECE centres. The sample comprised ten ECE teachers and 442 ECE learners. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Findings suggest that children do not carry balanced diet meals to school. They mainly brought foods high in carbohydrates and sugar. Learners bought some of these foods from the tuckshop. Data from interviews showed that teachers understood the need for nutritional food but were unaware of existing policies on nutrition that would empower them to intervene in the choice of foods children bring in the ECE centres. Teachers also suggested school feeding programmes to ensure that children in ECE received a balanced diet at school.