The impact of nutrition and health education intervention on kindergarten students' nutrition and exercise knowledge

Roofe, Nina
Major Professor
Robert Bosselman
Gregory Welk
Committee Member
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

Quasi-experimental research was conducted with kindergarten students at two Southern state elementary schools to compare the changes in nutrition knowledge, food intake, physical activity behavior, and body mass index among elementary-age students and parents who participated in a nutrition education program with those who did not participate in the program. Permission and assent was obtained from 156 parents and kindergarten students (treatment n = 79, control n = 77) out of 205 total kindergarten students (76% response rate). A mixed between-within ANOVA was used to compare the children's knowledge change over time (repeated measures), the parent's Family Nutrition and Physical Activity (FNPA) score change over time, and the BMI results change over time. The nutrition and health curriculum taught by dietetics undergraduate students showed a significant increase in the children's knowledge and in the parent's FNPA scores (p=.000) compared to the control curriculum. However, the findings did not show a positive impact on the children's BMI results compared to the control curriculum. Qualitative research was conducted with the undergraduate nutrition majors at a local Southern state university to explore the personal impact of service learning on their personal and professional development. After participating in the program, the dietetic students were required to write a reflection paper including a personal impact section. When the personal impact sections were coded for emerging themes, the feeling of purpose and impact, general and pediatric experience gained, and the place for service learning in higher education were identified. These results demonstrated beneficial outcomes for the research participants (children and parents) as well as for the dietetic students implementing the program.