Background: Limited patents have explored young children’s understanding of the connection
between food and health. This qualitative study aimed to narrow this gap by investigating
young children’s health conceptions.
Methods: Seventy-two children, 5 to 7 years of age, participated in this study. Two instruments, the
demographic survey and child interview survey, were used to collect data. Data were analyzed following
the processes of conducting initial coding, specifying categories, and combining categories
to develop themes.
Results: Children in this age group had certain knowledge about five food categories: Diary, meat,
grain, fruit, and vegetables. They believed that food from these five categories were good for them
and would make them strong; they also believed that sweets and salty foods were unhealthy, yet
many of them preferred sweets and listed them as top snack choices. These children demonstrated
awareness of complex nutritional terms such as vitamins, fiber, and protein yet misconceptions became
evident when were asked to identify overall health effects of mixed dishes for which various
components were not easily recognizable.
Conclusion: This study provides new insights into children’s understanding about food, nutrition,
and health that can impact future education endeavors. Findings from this study can be helpful to
inform educators about the development of nutritional education curricula specifically targeting nutritional
values regarding foods being processed in different ways.