The Effects of a Nutrition Education Intervention on Third- and Fifth- Grade Students’ Fruit and Vegetable Knowledge, Preference and Consumption
Department or Administrative Unit
Nutrition Exercise and Health Sciences
Most American school children fail to meet recommended intakes of fruits and vegetables (F/V). Possible solutions to increase intake include nutrition education interventions paired with access to a cafeteria salad bar (SB). The aim of this research was to determine if a F/V-targeted nutrition education intervention would increase F/V knowledge, preference, and consumption among elementary school-aged students.
This repeated measures experimental design examined the effects of a nutrition education intervention among third- and fifth-grade students (n=149). Pre- and post-intervention surveys, as well as pre and post SB specific plate waste analyses, were used to measure change in F/V knowledge, preference, and consumption. Participants received eight weekly 20-minute nutrition education lessons focused on the benefits of consuming F/V. A series of two-way ANOVA models with interactions were used to examine changes in F/V knowledge, preference, and consumption in each grade.
A few significant improvements in nutrition knowledge and F/V preference were observed. There were slight differences in overall nutrition knowledge and F/V preference between grades but not a change post-intervention within grades. Fifth-grade students generally possessed a better understanding about the benefits of consuming F/V and a greater preference for F/V. Non-significant increases in F/V consumption were noted post-intervention.
Application to Child Nutrition Professionals
The results of this study suggest that targeted nutrition interventions may be effective in increasing F/V intake among elementary school-aged students. Positive outcomes seem to depend on several factors, including the existence and duration of other F/V promotional programs like SB, as well as peer- and adult-modeling of F/V consumption. This study as well as previous research indicates exposure and modeling are powerful tools in order to increase pre-adolescent F/V consumption.
Epstein-Solfield, A., Arango, C., Ogan, D., & Stendell-Hollis, N. (2018). The Effects of a Nutrition Education Intervention on Third- and Fifth- Grade Students’ Fruit and Vegetable Knowledge, Preference and Consumption. The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, 42(1).
The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management