Professional development for elementary school teachers in nutrition education

a content synthesis of 23 initiatives

Louisa R. Peralta*, Thea Werkhoven, Wayne G. Cotton, Dean A. Dudley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Although the importance of healthy eating is well known, eating patterns among school-aged children and adolescents rarely meet dietary guidelines. Schools are an effective and efficient setting for nutrition education; however, there is a dearth of research focusing on the key role of the teacher. In this study, we identified the role of professional development (PD) for elementary school teachers in delivering nutrition education programs. Methods: We used the results of a systematic literature search and meta-analysis to synthesize PD content reported in successful elementary school nutrition education programs (ie, ones reporting positive and significant changes in elementary school students’ nutritional outcomes). Results: Few studies provided evidence or methodologic descriptions of teacher PD. Of the 23 nutrition education
programs assessed for descriptions of teacher PD, 14 provided print and electronic information or people resources, 12 detailed who delivered the teacher PD, and 11 described the PD duration. Conclusions: Our findings from this content synthesis suggest that whereas teachers can make improvements in nutritional outcomes, the teacher PD component is not only underreported but also understudied. Therefore, the role of teacher PD is not widely understood, particularly the extent to which teacher PD influences teacher pedagogical practices and student nutritional outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-396
Number of pages23
JournalHealth Behavior and Policy Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

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  • nutrition education
  • teacher professional development
  • teacher in-service training
  • elementary school
  • healthy eating outcomes

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