Determine the effectiveness and feasibility of nutrition education in low-income preschool classrooms in West Virginia (WV).
170 preschool-age children.
Theory, Prior Research, Rationale
West Virginia’s Family Nutrition Program (FNP) is built on the social-ecological model of behavior change. FNP applies constructs of the social cognitive theory. Children learn through individual education and develop self-efficacy of nutrition behaviors. Nutrition education in preschool can have life-long impacts, yet preschool remains an untapped opportunity for intervention, especially in low-income areas. Since WV children are more likely to live in poverty than other children (12% v. 10% nationally) and are more obese (38% v. 24% nationally), providing nutrition education and increasing healthful behaviors is crucial in this population.
Paraprofessional nutrition educators delivered an age-appropriate curriculum in a seven-county area, in pre-schools with ≥50% of students qualifying for free/reduced meals. Instructors provided daily lessons including: books about food/nutrition, food tasting experiences, hands-on nutrition activities, and didactic material on food safety, food choices and physical activity.
Teacher questionnaires were used to assess the impact of the intervention. Qualitative evalautions assessed the instructors’ perception of the feasibility of the project. Instructors indicated the project was feasible and provided valuable feedback on the delivery process. Select information from teacher feedback surveys included: 86% of children were more aware of good nutrition; 50% ate breakfast at school more often after the lessons; 75% were more willing to try new foods.
Conclusions and Implications
Preliminary results showed nutrition education during the preschool years can impact child’s nutrition-related behaviors. Future plans include providing a parental/family education component to modify the home environment.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.