UBC Theses and Dissertations
Evaluation of the effectiveness of an innovative nutrition education program (Foodstyles : K) Hammond, Gail Kathleen
The nutrition of young children has been recognized as a priority health promotion issue for Canadians by Health and Welfare Canada. Childhood offers an opportunity, unlike any other time in the life cycle, to establish lifelong healthful eating patterns. By providing young children with the necessary tools to attain a basic understanding of nutrition concepts, we are making an investment in their future. Program evaluation is an essential key to obtaining the greatest gains from this investment. The focus of this program evaluation was two-fold. First, Phase I was designed to assess teachers' perceptions of an existing early childhood nutrition education program (Foodstyles:K), with the intention of maximizing the effectiveness of future editions of the program. Second, Phase II was designed to evaluate the impact of this program on student's familiarity with 16 specific foods and their stated willingness to eat them, and to offer parents of the students an opportunity to contribute their perceptions of any effects of the program on their child's food behaviours. A questionnaire was developed and pretested for Phase I to assess teacher use of the program. A return rate of 49% (n=404) was achieved with a maximum of 4 contacts per teacher. Three quarters of the teachers taught the program at some point following attendance at a Foodstyles:K workshop, and 47% of all respondents reported "current" use of the program during the school year which was evaluated (1989-1990). The outstanding reason for non-use of the program was a lack of both in class and out of class time. However, almost 1 out of every 5 teachers who indicated past use of the program, voluntarily commented that the program was "good," "excellent," or "terrific." An interview protocol was developed and pretested for Phase II to assess kindergarten student’s familiarity with the 16 test foods and their stated willingness to eat them. Two questionnaires were also developed (pretest and posttest) to assess parents' perceptions of their children’s willingness to eat the test foods. Several questionnaire items appeared on both the pretest and posttest questionnaires to permit a comparison of parents' responses at the start of the school year and again near the end. In addition, one question which appeared on both the pretest and posttest questionnaires, coincided with the same question asked of the children in terms of their stated willingness to eat the test foods. This permitted a comparison between parental perceptions of their child's willingness to eat the test foods and their child's actual responses. Overall, students familiarity with the 16 test foods increased significantly from pretest to posttest with the most significant increase appearing with foods that were introduced to the group of children who received program intervention. No change was observed overall from pretest to posttest for student's stated willingness to eat the 16 test foods. Comparatively, no significant change was observed for parents' perceptions of their child's willingness to eat the test foods. Significant differences did appear between parents and children in the intervention group for their responses indicating the child's willingness to eat both the introduced and non-introduced foods at pretest and again at posttest, with the child consistently stating s/he was willing to eat a greater number of foods than perceived by her/his parent. With the exception at posttest with non-introduced foods only, there was no significant difference between parents and children in the control group for their responses to the child's willingness to eat the test foods. Overall, agreement between parents' perceptions of their child's willingness to eat the test foods and their child's responses was 73.4%.
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