Poster Theater Flash Session
Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences
Assess changes in healthy eating behaviors and nutrition knowledge in youth after participating in the WeCook program.
107 4th-5th grade students from two Title I elementary schools in Nebraska participated in a 12-week afterschool program focused on nutrition, cooking, and physical activity (WeCook). Students completed surveys and a nutrition knowledge assessment based on the MyPlate guidelines at the beginning (T1) and end (T2) of the program. Surveys included 4 questions regarding self-reported frequency of healthy eating behaviors (EB) on a 0-3 scale. For the MyPlate (MP) assessment, youth were asked to build a healthy plate using a blank MyPlate template and food models. Plates were scored using a system based on the 5 food groups on a healthy plate per the MyPlate guidelines (fruit, vegetable, protein, grain, dairy); 1 point was given for each of the correct food groups (maximum score = 5). Friedman tests were used to assess changes from T1 to T2 for the each of the EB questions, each of the categories for MP, and the total scores for EB and MP.
There was no change from T1 to T2 for the EB total score (χ2(df=1) = 2.722, p = 0.099). There was an increase in the frequency of choosing healthy snacks (χ2(df=1) = 9.00, p = 0.003), but no other individual EB questions (p ≥ 0.639). There was an increase in the MP total score from T1 (x̄ = 3.92) to T2 (x̄ = 4.34, χ2(df=1) = 2.72, p = 0.099), and an increase in the proportion of youth who scored points for fruits (T1: x̄ = 0.92, T2: x̄ = 1.00, χ2(df=1) = 8.00, p = 0.005) and grains (T1: x̄ = 0.51, T2: x̄ = 0.73, χ2(df=1) = 11.52, p = 0.001), but not vegetables, protein, or dairy (p ≥ 0.24).
After participating in the WeCook program youth reported increased frequency of choosing healthy snacks, but there were no significant increases in reported frequency of eating fruit, vegetables, or breakfast. Youth were more likely to correctly include fruits and grains on the MyPlate assessment after the intervention. There was no change in the likelihood of youth including vegetables, protein, or dairy on the MyPlate assessment, possibly because ≥74% of youth scored points in these categories at T1, leaving little room for improvement at T2.
Funding Sources :
The WeCook program and this research were funded by the Child, Youth, and Families at Risk grant through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.