Objective: To increase youth fruit and vegetable consumption by enhancing parent-child discussion of food marketing and food labels.
Description: The curriculum employs principles from the social-ecological model, social cognitive theory, and the message interpretation process model from communication. The working hypothesis was that youth consumption of fruits and vegetables is increased through improved family communication about food marketing and improved home food environments. The curriculum targeted parents and 9-to-14-year-old youth, tested in Washington State. Six units comprised 1 hour with youth and parents separately, followed by a joint session, based on the Strengthening Families model. Activity-oriented lessons emphasized parent-child communication skills surrounding media management in the home and critical discussion of media messages about food.
Evaluation: Two cycles of pre/post data collection employed a matched group design, along with focus groups. Analyses have included Bayesian and structural modeling, as well as qualitative and social media analyses. Controlling for pretest, results indicate that increases in child-initiated discussion and parent-facilitated critical discussion of media increased parental efficacy toward nutritional changes in the home. Parents' efficacy positively predicted discussion about, and use of, nutrition facts labels, which in turn improved the ratio of healthy-to-less-healthy food in the home. Additionally, for the intervention group, parents' use of negative mediation positively predicted youths' critical thinking toward advertising content. Critical thinking positively predicted youth reports of child-initiated discussion, which in turn predicted discussion of nutrition facts labels and youth consumption of fruits.
Conclusions and Implications: Media literacy-based nutrition education can help families communicate effectively about persuasive food marketing and credible sources of nutrition information. Children also benefit by initiating discussions about food and marketing. Low participation among Latino/a families despite their prevalence in the targeted communities indicates a need for culturally sensitive and linguistically appropriate programming.
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