Effects of a school-based nutrition program diffused throughout a large urban community on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption

Michael Prelip, Wendelin Slusser, Chan L Thai, Janni Kinsler, Jennifer T Erausquin
Journal of School Health 2011, 81 (9): 520-9

BACKGROUND: Obesity among US children has increased in recent years. Although increased fruit and vegetable consumption has not been directly linked to obesity prevalence, it has been posited that more fruits and vegetables (FV) could reduce the consumption of high-fat, energy-dense foods and may protect against childhood illnesses including asthma and other respiratory diseases. The purpose of this current research was to assess the impact of a large public school district's hybrid approach to nutrition education programming on attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to fruit and vegetable consumption.

METHODS: A total of 12 elementary schools from the Los Angeles Unified School District (9 intervention schools, 3 control schools) were randomly selected to participate in a "hybrid" school-based nutrition education program. Data were collected at baseline (beginning of school year) and postintervention data (end of school year 9 months later). Linear mixed models were developed to assess the impact of the intervention.

RESULTS: The intervention resulted in a significant change in teacher influence on students' attitudes toward FV (p < .05) and students' attitudes toward vegetables (p < .01), even after adjusting for gender, grade, and race/ethnicity. Although not statistically significant, there was a slight increase in fruit and vegetable consumption from pretest to posttest for both the intervention and control schools.

CONCLUSION: The hybrid model reflects a more accurate representation of school-based interventions. More research is needed to identify the specific components of this model that are most successful in impacting fruit and vegetable consumption among US children.

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