Food and nutrition education tools for preschool children

current needs and challenges

  • Cátia Braga-Pontes Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Escola Superior de Saúde, CitechCare, Leiria, Portugal
  • Susana Custódio Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Escola Superior de Saúde, CitechCare, Leiria, Portugal
  • Pedro Graça Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Ciências da Nutrição e Alimentação, Porto, Portugal
Keywords: Preschool, food and nutrition education, health and education, pedagogy, child


Introduction: In Portugal there have been nutrition education programs aimed at children, using different instruments and methodologies. It is currently agreed that eating habits in early childhood have a strong impact on future health, being a window of opportunity for the modulation of eating habits for adult life. Nutrition education aimed at pre-school children is a very complex subject as it involves the child's development, pedagogy, and behavioral change.

Objectives: To understand the development of pre-school children and describe the nutrition education instruments most used in this age as well as their possible impact on knowledge and food behaviour.

Methodology: Narrative review of the literature using database search in Pubmed, ISI Web of Knowledge and the Online Knowledge Library.

Results: Pre-school children need nutrition education tools that are appropriate to their cognitive abilities and that stimulate their interest. The most used nutrition education tools are food guides, children's stories, or games.

Conclusions: Nutrition education instruments to be used at pre-school age should be tools for the realization of playful and meaningful moments of learning. Stories, traditional games, or digital games are thus valid instruments for this purpose and should be explored by educators to approach the topic of food.


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Education and Social Development Sciences