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School-based nutrition education programs

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Educators Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

School-based nutrition education programs include educational components such as classroom instruction by teachers, nutrition education curricula, and peer training as well as environmental components such as healthy school menu offerings, classroom snacks, and fruit and vegetable taste tests. Programs also often include other components such as family education and involvement, healthy school culture, and community involvement efforts. Specific components vary by program (Meiklejohn 2016). Some states regulate nutrition education programs.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Improved dietary habits
Increased fruit & vegetable consumption
Reduced sweetened beverage consumption
Improved weight status

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that school-based nutrition education programs increase healthy eating habits for children and adolescents (Wolfenden 2017, Meiklejohn 2016, Yip 2016, Wang 2013b, Langford 2014, Silveira 2011), including increasing fresh fruit and vegetable consumption (Wang 2013b, Langford 2014, Silveira 2011). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects, especially over the long term (Yip 2016).

Nutrition education interventions that use a whole school approach can increase participants’ consumption of high-fiber foods, healthier snacks, water, milk, and fruits and vegetables, as well as reduce consumption of low-nutrient dense foods, high fat foods, and sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs), and decrease breakfast skipping (Wang 2013b). School-based nutrition education programs that include food environment changes and family support have been shown to improve healthy eating attitudes and knowledge, and increase fruit and vegetable consumption (Langford 2014, Yip 2016), which can lead to improved weight status, including reduced body mass index (BMI) (Yip 2016). In some cases, school-based nutrition education can reduce BMI for children and adolescents; interventions with longer durations have greater effects (da Silveira 2013, Silveira 2011). However, in other instances, participation in school-based nutrition and physical activity education programs does not reduce children’s BMI (Guerra 2014).

Educational interventions may be more effective for girls (Guerra 2016, Kropski 2008). Boys appear to respond more effectively to structural interventions (Guerra 2016).

The most successful school-based nutrition education interventions are intensive, comprehensive, whole school interventions, that last longer than a year and include changes to promote a healthy school food environment as well as efforts to increase parental or family support (Wang 2013b, Meiklejohn 2016, Guerra 2016). Research also suggests such interventions be theory-based, incorporated into regular school curriculum and activities, and have support from policy makers and school management (Murimi 2017, Guerra 2016, Meiklejohn 2016, Silveira 2011).

An Iowa-based study suggests that adding a parent-oriented social media marketing campaign to school-based nutrition education programs can increase nutrition knowledge and consumption of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk (Blitstein 2016).

Implementation

United States

The National Association of State Boards of Education runs the Obesity Prevention Project which supports states in creating policy tools (such as nutrition education programs) to reduce obesity rates (NASBE-Student health). Team Nutrition is a US Department of Agriculture program that supports child nutrition programs through training and technical assistance (USDA-Team nutrition).

The Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP), developed at the Center for Nutrition in Schools at UC-Davis, is an example of a multi-component intervention that combines nutrition education, family and community support, school food environment improvements, and school wellness policies. SHCP includes school gardens, cooking demonstrations, family newsletters, salad bars featuring regional produce, and school-wide health fairs with educational booths and games (CNS-SHCP). Cooking with Kids is another example of a hands-on food and nutrition education program that operates in Santa Fe, New Mexico and as a pilot program in Colorado. Cooking with Kids includes a tasting curriculum, recipes, and classroom nutrition lessons with Spanish translations (CWK-Nutrition ed).

As of 2014, only 35% of school districts require a school nutrition education curriculum for each grade level (BTG-School nutrition 2014).

Wisconsin

Wisconsin participates in Team Nutrition (WI DPI-Nutrition). UW Extension provides nutrition education resources for classroom use (UW Ext-WNEP).

Implementation Resources

CNS-SHCP guide 2017 - Center for Nutrition in Schools (CNS), University of California-Davis. The Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP) in action: A best practices guide. Second edition; 2017. Accessed on March 30, 2018
LHC-Rockeymoore 2014 - Rockeymoore M, Moscetti C, Fountain A. Rural Childhood Obesity Prevention Toolkit. Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), Center for Global Policy Solutions, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 2014. Accessed on February 22, 2018
LiveWell Colorado-Nutrition education - LiveWell Colorado. Resource Center: School-based nutrition education. Accessed on March 30, 2018
SNA - School Nutrition Association (SNA). Teaching kids about nutrition. Accessed on January 10, 2018
WI DPI-Nutrition - Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).Team nutrition. Accessed on January 10, 2018

Citations - Description

Meiklejohn 2016* - Meiklejohn S, Ryan L, Palermo C. A systematic review of the impact of multi-strategy nutrition education programs on health and nutrition of adolescents. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2016;48(9):631-646.e1. Accessed on March 30, 2018

Citations - Evidence

Blitstein 2016* - Blitstein JL, Cates SC, Hersey J, et al. Adding a social marketing campaign to a school-based nutrition education program improves children’s dietary intake: A quasi-experimental study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(8):1285-1294. Accessed on March 30, 2018
da Silveira 2013* - da Silveira JAC, Taddei JAAC, Guerra PH, Nobre MRC. The effect of participation in school-based nutrition education interventions on body mass index: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled community trials. Preventive Medicine. 2013;56(3-4):237-243. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Guerra 2014* - Guerra PH, Nobre MRC, da Silveira JAC, Taddei JAAC. School-based physical activity and nutritional education interventions on body mass index: A meta-analysis of randomised community trials - Project PANE. Preventive Medicine. 2014;61:81-89. Accessed on May 8, 2018
Guerra 2016 - Guerra PH, da Silveira JAC, Salvador EP. Physical activity and nutrition education at the school environment aimed at preventing childhood obesity: Evidence from systematic reviews. Jornal de Pediatria. 2016;92(1):15-23. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Kropski 2008 - Kropski JA, Keckley PH, Jensen GL. School-based obesity prevention programs: An evidence-based review. Obesity. 2008;16(5):1009-18. Accessed on April 11, 2018
Langford 2014 - Langford R, Bonell CP, Jones HE, et al. The WHO Health Promoting School framework for improving the health and well-being of students and their academic achievement. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014;(4):CD008958. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Meiklejohn 2016* - Meiklejohn S, Ryan L, Palermo C. A systematic review of the impact of multi-strategy nutrition education programs on health and nutrition of adolescents. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2016;48(9):631-646.e1. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Murimi 2017* - Murimi MW, Kanyi M, Mupfudze T, et al. Factors influencing efficacy of nutrition education interventions: A systematic review. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2017;49(2):142-165.e1. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Silveira 2011* - Silveira JAC, Taddei JAAC, Guerra PH, Nobre MRC. Effectiveness of school-based nutrition education interventions to prevent and reduce excessive weight gain in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Jornal de Pediatria. 2011;87(5):382-392. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Wang 2013b* - Wang D, Stewart D. The implementation and effectiveness of school-based nutrition promotion programmes using a health-promoting schools approach: A systematic review. Public Health Nutrition. 2013;16(6):1082-1100. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Wolfenden 2017* - Wolfenden L, Nathan NK, Sutherland R, et al. Strategies for enhancing the implementation of school-based policies or practices targeting risk factors for chronic disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017;(11):CD011677. Accessed on March 30, 2018
Yip 2016 - Yip C, Gates M, Gates A, Hanning RM. Peer-led nutrition education programs for school-aged youth: A systematic review of the literature. Health Education Research. 2016;31(1):82-97. Accessed on March 30, 2018

Citations - Implementation

BTG-School nutrition 2014 - Bridging the Gap (BTG) Research Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies for creating supportive school nutrition environments. Atlanta, Georgia. 2014. Accessed on March 30, 2018
CNS-SHCP - Center for Nutrition in Schools (CNS), University of California-Davis. Shaping Healthy Choices Program (SHCP). Accessed on March 30, 2018
CWK-Nutrition ed - Cooking with Kids. Cooking with Kids educates and empowers children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, affordable foods. Accessed on March 30, 2018
NASBE-Student health - National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Student health. Accessed on January 10, 2018
USDA-Team nutrition - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Team nutrition. Accessed on January 10, 2018
UW Ext-WNEP - University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension (UW Ext). Wisconsin nutrition education program (WNEP). Accessed on January 10, 2018
WI DPI-Nutrition - Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).Team nutrition. Accessed on January 10, 2018

Page Last Updated

April 3, 2018

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