To evaluate the improvement in nutrition, food safety, food resource management, and physical activity practices among youth participating in an online nutrition education series.
Use of Theory or Research
Previous evaluation studies of the goal-oriented EatFit curriculum demonstrated positive behavior change outcomes when delivered in person. Pivoting to remote programming due to the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of an online version of the curriculum.
Middle school students enrolled in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Contra Costa County, California
During FFY21, a nutrition educator implemented an online version of the EatFit curriculum. Six lessons were adapted for remote delivery and included activities focused on MyPlate, the nutrition facts label, hydration, fast food, physical activity, and goal setting. Students worked to accomplish their eating and fitness goals each week. The engaging video lessons were delivered asynchronously through a learning management system. To interact with the students the nutrition educator provided each class with a live Zoom introductory and review session.
Students completed an online version of the EFNEP 6th-8th grade pre-post Nutrition Education Survey and provided responses to an open-ended question about the online lessons. Pre-post analyses were completed using the Web-Based Nutrition Education Evaluation and Reporting System (WebNEERS).
In total, 855 students received the online lessons, and 284 students completed the pre-post surveys. The majority of students identified as Hispanic. Differences in the pre-to-post scores indicated improvement in desired behaviors: 88% of students improved their diet quality, 51% improved food safety practices, 49% improved food resource management practices, and 71% improved physical activity practices. Students described specific behaviors they adopted and enjoyable aspects of the online lessons.
The online goal-oriented EatFit lessons provided middle school students with the knowledge and skills to improve their nutrition, food safety, food resource management, and physical activity practices and is an alternative delivery method to consider in post-pandemic programming.