Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Aydin Nazmi


The rate of overweight and obesity among adolescents aged 12-19 years has more than tripled since 1980, and disproportionately impacts low-income and marginalized populations. Reduction in adolescent obesity rates may result in decreased health risks, decrease healthcare costs, and increased quality of life. Effective intervention methods for adolescent participants have incorporated nutrition knowledge and culinary skill building into afterschool programs. This study examines whether building knowledge, skills, and confidence through a culinary intervention can improve adolescent participants’ choices of healthful foods through increased fruit and vegetable intake.

Pink and Dude Chefs (PDC) is an afterschool nutrition education and culinary skills program for middle-school adolescents aged 11-14 years. This project aimed to improve eating behavior in participants by increasing culinary and nutrition self-efficacy. PDC was implemented in Shandon, California from Spring 2014 to Fall 2014, and in Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and New Cuyama, California from Fall 2015 to Summer 2016. Eighty-three middle school students participated and completed surveys in the 12-lesson program that covered food safety, micro- and macronutrients, meal planning, and USDA MyPlate guidelines.

Participant fruit and vegetable consumption improved following participation. Girls’ frequency of overall fruit consumption increased from a mean of 1.8 (SD 0.9) to 2.0 (SD 1.0). Girls’ vegetable consumption increased from 1.2 (SD 0.8) to 1.5 (SD 0.9). Boys’ fruit consumption increased from 1.9 (SD 1.0) to 2.2 (SD 1.0), and boys’ vegetable consumption increased from 1.1 (SD 0.9) to 1.3 (SD 0.8).

More research is needed to evaluate the long-term effect of participation in nutrition education and culinary skills programs. If obesity prevention programs that incorporate a skill-based culinary approach continue to show promising outcomes for adolescents, larger scale efforts may contribute to decreasing the public health and economic burdens associated with obesity.