Why Home and School Authoritative Figures’ Perceptions Matter

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  • Title: Why Home and School Authoritative Figures’ Perceptions Matter: An Analysis of Primary School Food Policies in Amsterdam
  • Author(s): Celia Zhou, Ali Sakkal
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Food Studies
  • Journal Title: Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
  • Keywords: Adolescent Obesity, Food Policy, School Lunch, Authoritative Figures, Diet, Children, Student Eating Habits
  • Volume: 9
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: January 15, 2019
  • ISSN: 2160-1933 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2160-1941 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v09i01/43-52
  • Citation: Zhou, Celia, and Ali Sakkal. 2019. "Why Home and School Authoritative Figures’ Perceptions Matter: An Analysis of Primary School Food Policies in Amsterdam." Food Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9 (1): 43-52. doi:10.18848/2160-1933/CGP/v09i01/43-52.
  • Extent: 10 pages

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Given the rising obesity rates in the Dutch adolescent population, creating a healthy eating environment on school grounds with the support from both home and school authoritative figures is critical. This study examined parent and adult school figure perceptions on current school food policies in three primary schools that serve predominantly low socio-economic status families in Amsterdam. Fieldwork observations of approximately 800 students and formal interviews with eighteen legal guardians, fifteen teachers, and six school administrators were gathered for this study. Qualitative research analyses revealed parents and school figures from the primary school with the most well-formulated food rules were able to most accurately identify and understand these regulations. These individuals were also able to recognize and appreciate the shared responsibility that each party had regarding encouraging healthful eating practices in the students. On the other hand, findings at the primary schools without a clear food policy were conflicting and inconsistent. Thus, the following recommendations were provided for primary schools looking to alleviate obesogenic food environments: adopt and publicize an explicit school food policy, emphasize the joint role parents and school staff share when it comes to cultivating healthy eating habits in students, and increase student exposure to adult figures during meal times.