Evaluation of a high school nutrition education curriculum for the FCS classroom
Enrollment in vocational studies is declining, as is the health status of youth (ages 2-17) in the United States. Increased technology and social media use has led to a surplus of health and nutrition misinformation, often targeted at youth. High-school nutrition education is typically integrated into the vocational field of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS). Educators report a desire to implement nutrition interventions but lack the necessary self-efficacy. Because attitudes and behaviors of nutrition educators directly influence their students, educators need rigorous, experiential training to engage students in research-based nutrition education.
Educators: A curriculum (Nutrition Nuggets) was developed using Experiential Learning Theory (ELT). Hybrid training was offered to Iowa FCS educators for professional development (PD). Upon completing training, educators could implement the lessons for additional PD credit. To evaluate this training, educators completed surveys [pre-/post-training (n=24)]; post-implementation (n=10], which addressed nutrition self-efficacy, cooking attitudes and skills, eating competence, and nutrition-related perceptions.
Students: To evaluate the impact of Nutrition Nuggets on students, students in classrooms of educators implementing the lessons completed surveys similar to educators [pre-/post-participation (n=111)], with the addition of items regarding parental and peer support for healthy eating, and healthy-eating self-efficacy.
Educators: Significant improvement in contextual skills was observed for the training group (p=0.04). Cooking attitudes and all five eating competence scores significantly improved for the implementation group (p<0.05). Change scores for overall eating competence, eating attitudes, food acceptance and contextual skills were significantly greater post-implementation (p<0.05), indicating implementation (ELT) provided greater impact than training alone.
Students: No significant changes in outcome measures were observed from pre- to post-participation. Greater healthy-eating efficacy was observed in subjects with greater eating competence (p<0.05) and internal regulation (p<0.05). A consistent decrease in all five eating competence scores was observed post-participation for minority subjects. Topic opinions regarding safety of genetically modified foods (p<0.01), healthiness of organic foods (p=0.10), knowledge of food safety principles (p=0.01), and knowledge of types and sources of fats (p<0.01) improved post-participation.
Educators: ELT should be used as a model for PD programming.
Students: Nutrition education interventions need to be culturally sensitive.