Journal Article

Creating health-promoting schools in China with a focus on nutrition

Xia Shi-Chang, Zhang Xin-Wei, Xu Shui-Yang, Tang Shu-Ming, Yu Sen-Hai, Carmen Aldinger and Peter Glasauer

in Health Promotion International

Volume 19, issue 4, pages 409-418
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online November 2004 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
Creating health-promoting schools in China with a focus on nutrition

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This pilot project in Zhejiang Province, China, aimed at improving the nutrition and health status of students, school personnel and parents, and developing a model project for nutrition interventions for the development of health-promoting schools (HPS) in China. Three primary and three secondary schools participated. Interventions included establishing school-based working groups, nutrition training for school staff, distribution of materials on nutrition, nutrition education for students, student competitions, school-wide health promotion efforts and outreach to families and communities. Results of a pre- and post-intervention survey one and a half years apart showed improvements in nutrition knowledge, attitudes and behavior among all target groups. Primary school students at the pilot schools made the greatest knowledge gains in the areas of Chinese dietary guidelines (increased from 49.2 to 78.0%, p < 0.01) and adequate dietary principles (increased from 42.9 to 68.0%, p < 0.01). Scores of secondary school students who reported liking school lunches rose at pilot schools from 17.9 to 45.2% (p < 0.01). School staff at control schools who reported taking breakfast declined from 81.4 to 66.6% (p < 0.01), while staff who reported taking lunch at school increased in pilot schools from 87.5% at baseline to 93.9% (p < 0.01). The largest increases in nutrition knowledge among all target groups occurred among parents and guardians. At the pilot schools parents increased their knowledge in the areas of nutritional deficiencies (from 35.0 to 66.2%, p < 0.01) and nutrient-rich foods (from 38.8 to 66.8%, p < 0.01). Talks with target groups confirmed changes in attitudes and behavior, and school visits revealed improvements to school facilities and school health services, establishing of school policies and a positive school climate. This study suggests that nutrition can effectively serve as an entry point to establish HPS in China and that the HPS concept is feasible to improve the dietary knowledge, attitudes and behavior of students, parents and school personnel.

Keywords: China; nutrition; health-promoting schools

Journal Article.  5042 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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