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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship of nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices of grade 8 secondary school students in Vancouver, to selected environmental variates Thompson, Jean Kathleen


Adolescence, a period of rapid growth and development accompanied by increased nutrient requirements, is frequently a stage in the life cycle when dietary practices are poor (Nutrition Canada 1973 and 1974). The nutrition knowledge of teenagers has been considered inadequate, while a review of the literature reveals that few studies of the attitudes of adolescents toward nutrition have been conducted. The relationship among nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices is also not clearly defined. An associational, non-experimental study was designed, using survey research techniques, to investigate the nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices of grade 8 secondary school students in the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. The nature of the relationship among the criterion variables, nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices, was assessed and the influence of selected, environmental variates upon the criterion variables determined. The variates studied included family variates (family size and socio-economic status); school variates (school athletic and non-athletic activities and location); and individual variates (sex, age, leisure activities and employment status). In October 1974, questionnaires were completed by 366 eighth grade students from 6 Vancouver schools. The responses were statistically analysed by computer, all tests being conducted at the 5% level of significance. Mean percentage scores in tests of nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices were 66%, 66% and 81% respectively. Students were found to have poor knowledge in the areas of dietary supplementation and food composition. The attitude associating good nutritional value and "disliked" foods was common. Dietary adequacy was achieved by 73% of the students. Intake of foods from the fruit and vegetable, meat and cereal food groups was relatively high, while low intake of foods from the milk group and vitamin D-containing foods was recorded. Vitamin-mineral supplementation was reported by 32% of respondents. Frequency of food intake was high, with 85% consuming food 4 to 6 times per day. Analysis of variance showed that nutrition knowledge test scores were significantly related to both family variates, family size and socio-economic status; the school variate, location; and the individual variate, sex. A significant relationship was found between scores in the nutrition attitudes test and the variates, family size, socio-economic status, school location, sex and age. Variates, school location and age, were significantly related to nutrition practices test scores. Partial correlation analysis of test scores for the three criterion variables revealed significant correlation coefficients for nutrition knowledge and attitudes (0.500) and for nutrition attitudes and practices (0.208). The correlation between nutrition knowledge and practices was very low and non-significant. Implications for nutrition educators from the findings of the study were discussed.

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