Sustainable Diets: Understanding Nutrition Educators' Perceptions
AuthorWyatt, Melissa Ann
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBackground As the world population grows to 9.1 billion people, there is a need to feed all of these people. Agriculture will need to produce more food to feed the world. Agriculture is pressured by climate change with droughts and changes in seasonal patterns and needs to adapt to these changes. For nutritionists, there is a need to address non-communicable chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. These diseases are highly problematic in the developed parts of the world. Additionally, addressing food security is also an issue as part of the world, a large portion of developing countries, experience hunger and diseases related to not having adequate nutritious foods. Sustainable diets are working to address the issues mentioned above. This idea of having a sustainable diet is not new and dates back to a 1986 commentary by Gussow and Clancy. However, it was later in 2010, that a definition was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This general definition has provided research with a focus on what a sustainable diet is and which food groups are parts of a sustainable diet. Purpose The purpose of this study was to learn about the current knowledge of sustainable diets through conducting a search of peer-reviewed literature about what sustainable diets are and what foods are included. Finally, this study assessed what nutrition educators know about and what their perceptions are of sustainable diets. Methods A literature search was conducted using several databases, including PubMed and EBSCO Host, yielding a few thousand results. After reviewing the literature, questions were developed for a focus group (n=8 participants), interviews (n=9 participants), and a short survey (n=54 participants). The project participants were from the University of Arizona’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Participants were asked to participate in one of the session: focus group, interview, or short survey. Results Participants from the focus group and interviews indicated that there was potential for people to be healthy by participating in sustainable diet activities. There also was concern about cost of sustainable diets. Sustainable diets need to be culturally acceptable to get consumers to practice them. Finally, eating seasonally was important component of a sustainable diet. If nutrition educators were asked to teach sustainable diets to others many felt they need more information or resources on sustainable diets or need to research the topic. Participants in the short surveys indicated concerns about costs, nutritional adequacy and showed mixed results when asked about what foods would be part of a sustainable diet. Educators who took the survey also showed great interest in having more education to learn about sustainable diets. Conclusions Nutrition educators have concerns about sustainable diets, such as being nutritionally adequate and affordable to all people. Educators in the focus group and interviews showed that there is potential for people to be healthy by following sustainable dietary practices, like gardening. However, there seemed to be a need for more education on sustainable diets. Nutrition educators have limited knowledge of sustainable diets. Some have an idea of what sustainable diets are, while others have stated that they have not heard of sustainable diets. Nutrition educators surveyed show a great interest in attending a seminar, if offered, on this topic. In summary, sustainable diets are gaining attention of nutrition educators, especially if sustainability and food become part of the new dietary guidelines. A need for providing sustainable diet education to nutrition educators will be part of the future. Further research on knowledge of nutrition educators on different components of sustainable diets and development of an educational curriculum is necessary.
Degree ProgramGraduate College