Helping middle school students make healthier food choices with nutrition education
Middle school is an important environment for healthy eating and exercise education, as students take more responsibility over their diet and exercise behavior when they get older. The middle school nutrition program for middle-school students program consists of 8 lessons aligned with California’s Common Core Standards and the US Dietary Guidelines for healthy eating. The program includes several technology-integrated activities for increased effectiveness. An evaluation of our program has been published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Health Promotion.
Adolescents take more control of their nutrition and physical activity choices as they gain independence. The middle school nutrition and physical activity program for middle-school students has shown evidence of increasing intake of some healthy foods, such as dairy products, and reducing intake of empty calorie foods, including sugars and sweets. It also showed evidence of increasing children’s physical activity, while simultaneously reducing their time spent doing sedentary activities such as watching TV or playing video and computer games.
The program was most recently evaluated during the 2006-2007 school year by independent researchers at the Harder & Company Community Research, Inc research firm. Over 234,000 students participated in the program during that year throughout the state of California, and over 650 of those students participated in the formative evaluation. Researchers studied qualitative and quantitative outcomes of the program using surveys and classroom observations by professionals. Target outcomes were changes in students’ nutrition knowledge, attitudes towards nutrition, and diet and exercise behaviors. Students were measured prior-to and after participating in the program, but there was no Control group of students to make comparisons.
Read the full report here.