Factors influencing Nutritional Needs of Children with Disabilities in United Arab Emirates: Special Education Teachers vs Parents
NUTRITION AND CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
Keywords:nutrition, Parents, special education teachers, policy, United Arab Emirates
Aims: Children with disabilities are likely to have poor eating habits, resulting in being underweight or overweight. The United Nations in the Sustainable Development Goals, has strongly encouraged countries to promote good eating habits among children. However, studies on ways to effectively promote the nutritional needs of children with disabilities are quite limited. Using a health literacy model by Nutbeam as a framework, this study attempted to develop insights into the factors which may impact the understanding and practice of stakeholders about the nutritional needs of children with disabilities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Methods: The revised Food and Nutritional Literacy Scale was used to collect data from 149 parents and special education teachers. The survey data collected from parents and special education teachers were analysed by computing the mean and subjecting them to t-test and one- and two-way analysis of variances.
Results: The results showed ambivalence of parents and teachers on knowledge and practical skills to promote good eating habits among children with disabilities. Moreover, variables such as age, participant type, nationality, gender, and awareness of nutritional policy were found to influence awareness about nutritional needs of children with disabilities.
Conclusion and implications: The study concludes with a recommendation to policymakers in the UAE to expedite public education and the importance of professional development in the area of safe and good nutrition for children with disabilities by key stakeholders.
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