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Engaging Youth in Learning about Healthful Eating and Active Living: An Evaluation of Educational Theater Programs

Published:November 28, 2011DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2011.06.005

      Abstract

      Objective

      To compare knowledge gains and knowledge retention of healthful eating and active living behaviors in elementary school children participating in Educational Theatre Programs (ETP).

      Methods

      The study sample included 47 schools (2,915 third- or fourth-grade students) in 8 Kaiser Permanente regions. Children's knowledge of 4 healthful behaviors was measured using a brief survey before and immediately after performances, followed by a post-delay survey 3 weeks later.

      Results

      Statistically significant increases in knowledge pre/post for individual topics (P < .01). The percentage of children who answered all 4 questions correctly increased from 17% to 63% immediately after ETP performances (P < .01). Knowledge was retained over the short term; the proportion of students who correctly identified recommended healthful eating/active living practices had declined only slightly 3 weeks later.

      Conclusions and Implications

      The ETP significantly improved participating students' knowledge of healthful eating and active living concepts. Theater programs should be considered for inclusion in elementary school health curricula.

      Key Words

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