The University of Newcastle, the Hunter Medical and Research Institute (HMRI) Food and Nutrition Program, and the Teachers' Health Foundation are seeking secondary teachers to take part in a pioneering survey aimed at investigating the long-term impact of food and nutrition on their health and wellbeing.
The survey aims to shed light on the crucial role that a teacher's wellbeing plays not only in the academic outcomes of their students but also in their overall quality of life.
Teachers not only educate the next generation about food and nutrition but are also frequently called upon to assume the role of ‘food and nutrition health promoter’ or ‘gatekeeper’. However, many teachers feel that they lack the necessary support and basic nutritional training to effectively fulfill these additional health-related responsibilities.
To address this gap, the UON/HMRI research teams recently conducted a scoping review of existing research, which revealed significant variations in the measures used to evaluate food and nutrition. This made it challenging for the team to draw definitive conclusions.
To overcome these variations, the UON/HMRI research team developed a simple screening tool in the form of a questionnaire for teachers.
"By using this tool, we hope to gain a clearer understanding of the influence that food and nutrition can have on the health and wellbeing of teachers,” said Tammie Jakstas, Ph.D. Candidate and Research Student overseeing the research in collaboration with Chief Investigator Laurate Professor Clare Collins.
“The findings of this study will also provide opportunities for further research into the impact of food and nutrition on students' wellbeing."
Once the research is complete, interventions can be designed to meet the individual needs of teachers and provide the necessary education and nutritional support.
The ultimate goal is to help teachers adopt healthy food and nutrition practices and empower them to become advocates and role models within their communities.
"This research aims to highlight the importance of food and nutrition support in improving teacher wellbeing and better preparing them for their diverse roles as food and nutrition advocates and role models within the community," said Ms Jakstas.
The study, funded by the Teachers' Health Foundation, will span an entire school year and aims to capture a comprehensive picture of the food and nutrition status of teachers in Australia. It will also evaluate how a teacher's long-term nutrition-related health and wellbeing impacts their ability to deliver quality teaching both inside and outside the classroom.
While the research is still in its early stages, it is already sparking an important conversation about the food and nutrition status of teachers in Australia and how these factors can impact their overall health and wellbeing.
"We aim to identify the necessary steps to support teachers in achieving good personal food and nutrition wellbeing, while equipping them to be confident health promoters, role models, educators, and policy implementers within their schools," Ms Jakstas said.
Secondary teachers are encouraged to participate in this groundbreaking survey to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in this vital area. By sharing their experiences and insights, teachers can help shape future interventions and support systems that will benefit both themselves and their students.