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Nutritional knowledge in an Italian population of children, pre-adolescents and adolescents

Tallarini, Anna, Zabeo, Alessandra, Ferraretto, Anita
Public health nutrition 2014 v.17 no.3 pp. 708-714
adolescents, beverages, breakfast, children, cognition, eggs, fast foods, females, fish, fruits, grains, healthy diet, legumes, lipids, meat, milk, nutrition knowledge, questionnaires, snacks, surveys, sweets, tubers, vegetables, Italy
To evaluate general knowledge about nutrition in an Italian population of children, pre-adolescents and adolescents. Knowledge about nutrition-related items such as healthy eating, breakfast, snacks, fast food, beverages, fruits and vegetables, cereals and tubers, meat/fish/legumes/eggs, milk and dairy products, fats and dressings, and sweets was analysed by means of a self-administered questionnaire (QuesCA IT) containing thirty-one questions, that was translated and adapted from a Swiss version (QuesCA) previously used in Geneva and Vaud. North of Italy (Bergamo, Milan). Students (n 614) belonging to two different age groups: 9–11 years (GR1) and 12–16 years (GR2). Data analysis showed that nutritional knowledge varied in relation to the age of the participants, increasing in particular in the older group, although this difference was not statistically significant for all the considered items. Nutritional knowledge also varied in relation to the gender of the participants, with females in particular seeming to possess better cognition. For each age group there was poor knowledge about the items healthy diet, snacks, milk and dairy products, meat/fish/legumes/eggs, and fats and dressings. Moreover, the percentage of participants who declared own knowledge as insufficient was higher in GR2 compared with GR1. The present research demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the main concepts of healthy nutrition both in the youngest and oldest participants of the survey. This evidence, together with the presence of higher self-consciousness in GR2, should be taken into account in specific educational interventions during the school period.