Aim: To describe the level of nutrition knowledge in students undertaking an accredited nutrition and dietetics (ND) undergraduate program in reference to students enrolled in non-accredited nutrition (NUT) or occupational therapy (OT) programs. The secondary aim was to investigate the variation in nutrition knowledge of ND students. Methods: Students enrolled in ND, NUT or OT undergraduate programs at an Australian university were invited to participate in an online survey in August 2013. Nutrition knowledge levels were measured using the validated Re-examined General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire (R-GNKQ). Socio-demographic characteristics and sources of nutrition information were also collected. Results: Students in the first year of ND or NUT programs had significantly higher overall scores than the OT students (P = 0.046 and P = 0.005, respectively). Substantially greater overall scores were observed for the students in the second year of the ND program than those in the first year (P = 0.01). The highest level of nutrition knowledge was observed in third year ND students. Overall score for ND students was influenced by year level and previous education, but there were no differences detected for gender, age, living situation or ethnicity. Conclusions: ND students entered the program with high nutrition knowledge levels. The dietetic program appeared to develop the general nutrition knowledge of students to a level comparable to practising dietitians. Research investigating underlying knowledge development is necessary to direct dietetic curriculum design and delivery.
Nutrition and Dietetics / Vol. 73, No. 3, pp.260-267