Minnerath, Kirsten Lynn; Ph.D.
Program of Human Development, Wellness;
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
Nutrition Education: An Analysis of the Effects of a Multi-Level, School-Based Intervention on Elementary School Children
Major Professor: Dr. Ardith Brunt
This study explored the impact a multi-level, school-based intervention had on fifth and sixth grade students in Alexandria, Minnesota. Sixty-five students completed both the pre-and post-tests of knowledge. There were not differences in the control and intervention groups in pre-test scores. The 38 students from the intervention site were engaged in a 7-week curriculum that included concepts such as healthy food choices, the importance of physical activity in daily life, and basics on how the body expends energy. Healthy decision-making was reinforced with motivational posters and information throughout the school building/cafeteria. The parents of the students were also engaged through the use of informational handouts. At the end of the curriculum, the mean score of the intervention group was significantly higher than that of the control group (p = < 0.0001). To determine if the intervention had an impact on physical activity levels, participants from the intervention group completed pre- and post-behavior surveys. The members of the intervention group exhibited a significant change in their behavior in several areas, including playing with balls (p = 0.0086), riding bike (p = 0.0215), playing with toys that include running (p = 0.0009), and “other” (p = 0.0070). Other activities produced insignificant results from pre- to post-survey. Food diaries were randomly completed by participants in the intervention group. The data collected for changes in food consumption were inconclusive. In conclusion, the curriculum increased the knowledge of the students in the intervention group and may have helped increase their physical activity levels in several areas.