Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



American Journal of Health Education (2016) 47(3): 136–148. DOI: 10.1080/19325037.2016.1157533.


Copyright 2016, the authors. Open access, Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license.



Nutrition education delivered by classroom teachers has become a popular intervention designed to combat childhood obesity. However, few qualitative studies have explored nutrition education with teachers.


The purpose of this study was to explore how elementary teachers describe their experience with nutrition education.


A qualitative phenomenological approach was used. Semistructured interviews, observations, and document analysis were conducted with 10 teachers who delivered nutrition education in their classrooms. Inductive coding was used to determine invariant constituents, reduce constituents to categories, and cluster categories into themes. Reliability and validity were accomplished through intercoder agreement, audio recording, triangulation, bracketing, and member checking.


Results identified 5 core themes related to roles teachers play in nutrition education, the importance placed upon nutrition, motivation for supplementary activities, barriers, and a triadic relationship between students, teachers, and curriculum.


Findings reveal interactions within the nutrition education experience in which teachers balance barriers with their value of nutrition education and motivation to help students make healthy choices.

Translation to Health Education Practice:

Health educators should work with classroom teachers at the program design, implementation, and evaluation stages of curriculum development to better address needs and facilitate the delivery of high-quality nutrition education for students.