Date of Award

3-2016

Degree Name

MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition

Department

Food Science and Nutrition

Advisor

Aydin Nazmi

Abstract

The epidemic of adolescent obesity has become one of the greatest public health concerns in the United States. Approximately 20.5% of adolescents of both sexes aged 12-19 years are considered obese. Higher rates of obesity are evident in ethnic minority and lower income status children with the highest prevalence among Hispanic/Latino and Black populations. The causes for obesity are multifactorial in nature and highlight disparities nationwide. These factors include socioeconomic status, education, environment, availability and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and behavior patterns. Successful intervention methods that have reduced the impact of adolescent obesity have incorporated nutrition knowledge and culinary skill building into afterschool programs.

Pink and Dude Chefs, a 12-lesson nutrition education and culinary skills afterschool program targeted toward middle school students, aims to improve nutrition knowledge and dietary behavior in low income and minority populations. Based off of evidence-based curriculum, the program focuses on culinary fundamentals while incorporating nutrition lessons about macronutrients, micronutrients, label reading, kitchen safety, and USDA guidelines. Research assistants from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, were trained to implement each lesson.

The program took place at Mesa Middle School in Arroyo Grande, CA; Shandon, CA; and two sites in Nashville, TN from Spring 2014 to Fall 2014. Thirty-two middle school students participated in the study aged 11-14 years. Questionnaires were used to measure fruit and vegetables preferences, nutrition knowledge, and fruit and vegetable intake.

Results indicate that participants’ fruit and vegetable preferences, nutrition knowledge and fruit and vegetable intake all increased. However, statistical significance was only achieved with nutrition knowledge, likely due to small sample size. If programs such as Pink and Dude Chefs show promise for decreasing risk for obesity, the public health impact could improve long-term health outcomes for adolescents and mitigate obesity related consequences.

Bierlich_Thesis_4_26_16.2.pdf (63 kB)
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