Three speakers noted that teachers will need training and professional development to implement nutrition education standards. But the nature and extent of that training will depend on the content of nutrition education, which again emphasizes the role of standards in improving the nutrition knowledge and skills of students.
UNDERGRADUATE TRAINING OF FUTURE TEACHERS
The costs of health care in the United States exceed $20,000 per family, said Esther Okeiyi, professor and program director for the dietetic internship program and didactic programs in dietetics at North Carolina Central University. Given that poor nutrition is a contributor to this cost, nutrition education must be a high priority. “We are not getting to the root of the problem [unless we] address nutrition,” she said.
Okeiyi specifically examined the steps needed to provide training to educate future teachers and the methods used to evaluate that training. At North Carolina Central University, all undergraduates must take a minimum of 124-128 hours to graduate. As part of this requirement, they must take health education and physical education, both of which are 3–credit hour courses. Introduction to Human Nutrition is another 3–credit hour course that is not required for all students, though Okeiyi expressed the opinion that nutrition education is just as important to students as health education and physical education.
All undergraduates who are in health care–related programs or majors such as nursing, nutrition, public health, physical education, or sports and exercise science may take Introduction to Human Nutrition or they may obtain nutrition knowledge from some of their core courses or electives that incorporate nutrition topics. However, Okeiyi expressed concern about whether nutrition is covered adequately in these other courses. Introduction to Human Nutrition covers nutrients, their function in the body, and food services. In contrast, a health education class that could meet the requirement is described as “an introductory study of personal health promotion and disease prevention with an emphasis on changing behaviors from those that threaten health to those that promote lifelong wellness.” In addition, science majors at her university are not required to take Introduction to Human Nutrition. “Again, I have a concern about a science graduate teaching nutrition without having basic preparation in nutrition.”
Majors in the nutrition program at North Carolina Central University take higher level courses that are aimed at preparing them to teach nutrition. However, future teachers do not have to take these courses. “Now that I have come through this workshop, I’m beginning to think that I should make some recommendation to my dean that we require this course for students teaching nutrition in public schools.” The courses teach how