"Because nutrition behaviors are learned, it is important to help children start making healthy choices early and the classroom is an appropriate venue to supplement parents' efforts," said Peggy Biltz, CEO, Dairy Council of California. "Using Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! in the classroom is an excellent way to incorporate nutrition education in schools. Students are more willing to try foods from each of the food groups; dairy, meat and beans, fruits, vegetables and grains, once they understand the importance of these foods as part of balanced meals."
Using a randomized control group design in the study, 38 classes from schools throughout California participated in the Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! evaluation. Teachers participating in the study either taught the Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! program (treatment group) or received the program after the final survey was conducted (control group). A pretest, posttest, and follow-up survey four months later were administered to determine program outcomes, including knowledge retention, attitude and behavior change. Data from 699 second-grade students in both the treatment and control groups were included in the analysis.
Upon completing the 10-lesson Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! program, students in the treatment group scored 20 percent higher on questions about the USDA MyPyramid food guidance system and retained that knowledge over time. Students in the treatment group reported statistically significant increases in selecting milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables for breakfast or snack as compared to the control group.
"Our rigorous development and evaluation process really sets Dairy Council of California education programs apart. Each program is scrutinized throughout its development to make absolutely sure that it will have a positive impact on the behaviors of the program user," said Biltz. "We're delighted to see that Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! is effective in changing behavior and considered fun for students and simple for teachers to use. Furthermore, this study provides the validation that Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! aligns with school efforts to include nutrition education programs as part of a district wellness policy."
Available in English and Spanish, Healthy Choices, Healthy Me! aligns to California and National Education standards and meets core curriculum requirements for Math, Science, Writing and Health. Healthy Choices, Healthy Me!, provided free to first- and second-grade teachers in California and for a low cost to teachers outside of California, includes student workbooks, a teacher's guide, a food guide pyramid poster, multicultural food pictures and The Market Mystery storybook. To learn more about Dairy Council of California's school programs, educators may logon to www.dairycouncilofca.org/edu or call 877.324.7901.
About Dairy Council
Dairy Council of California develops nutrition education programs that are easy to use and meet the unique needs of students at different grade levels. Making healthy food choices from all food groups and including physical activity are the foundation for lifelong health and wellness. The easy-to-use programs are scientifically sound and tested to ensure behavior change. Healthy Eating Made Easier.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.