After 26-weeks of food-related games, 5th graders would increase frequency and variety of foods consumed, especially fruits and vegetables. Children’s enthusiasm would encourage parents to prepare more of these foods.
Rural, low-income, many Hispanic 5th grade children (n=52) and parents. Half received intervention.
Theory, Prior Research, Rationale
“Research from psychology, anthropology and education suggests that play is a powerful mediator for learning.” (Reiber, LP. ETR&D 1996) Games can introduce new foods in fun and challenging ways.
Games and food preparation introduced new foods in weekly classes. One based on “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” was extremely popular. Activity sheets based on board games, collecting produce stickers to advance, brought competition, prizes and involved parents. Physical activity was incorporated. Children gave parents weekly bi-lingual newsletters based on classroom activities.
School was not able to provide cafeteria consumption data as promised so no inter-class evaluation was done. Difference in diet recalls from pre- to post-program in intervention classes was not significant. However at end-of-year students self-reported eating more fruits and vegetables, and eating ones that they previously did not like or eat. Children took home leftover samples from class and asked for more. Parents approached dietitians asking for help improving family diets.
Conclusions and Implications
Games and challenges can introduce new foods in non-threatening ways, making it more likely that children will try them, and will pass the new experiences on to their parents. Improving health through better eating can be fun.
Tampa Dietetic Association.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.