Impacting Dietary Behaviors of Children from Low Income Communities
An Evaluation of a Theory-Based Nutrition Education Program
The purpose of this study was to evaluate an expanded version of the Food Fit program, a Social Cognitive Theory based (SCT) nutrition intervention, among children in a low-income community. Eighty-five children ages 8 to 13 (mean=9.15 years; SD=1.05) were enrolled in this study. Impact and outcome measures included BMI percentile and dietary behaviors, which were evaluated before and after the program, and after a three-month follow up period. In addition, constructs of social cognitive theory, including behavioral capabilities (BC), self efficacy (SE), and outcome expectancies (OE), were evaluated before and after each lesson. Results indicated statistically significant improvements for BC’s in 11 of the 14 lessons (p=0.001), but changes in SE’s and OE’s did not reach levels of significance. There was also a significant improvement in overall dietary behaviors (p=0.036), and an increase in BMI percentile for normal weight children only (p=0.001). Compared with the previous implementation of Food Fit with children from middle-income families, this group had a similar level of changes for knowledge and skills, but fewer self-reported changes in confidence and desire to use the knowledge and skills discussed during the program. Reasons for these differences necessitate further investigation.