Available at: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/theses/929
Date of Award
MS in Agriculture - Food Science and Nutrition
Food Science and Nutrition
Dr. Aydin Nazmi
Pink and Dude Chefs: A nutrition and culinary intervention for middle school students
The prevalence of obesity in US adolescents has more than tripled in the past 35 years, and the greatest impact has been among low-income and minority racial/ethnic populations. Adolescents report inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, an overconsumption of sweetened beverages, and a high reliance on fast food locations for meals or snacks; increasing the risk of adolescent obesity. Building knowledge and skills through culinary interventions may empower middle school students to create and also choose healthful foods.
Pink and Dude Chefs, a six-week nutrition and culinary intervention, aims to improve healthy eating behaviors by increasing nutrition knowledge and culinary ability. Trained research assistants from California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) led middle school boys and girls in lessons ranging on topics including macronutrients, real-world application of USDA MyPlate guidelines, and meal planning and budgeting. Cal Poly research assistants supported middle school participants in cooking recipes that were specifically chosen to highlight themes covered in the nutrition lesson and to progress in difficulty throughout the program.
The program consisted of 12 lessons that were each divided into 1 hour of classroom nutrition instruction and 1 hour of hands-on cooking practicum. The program took place in two locations, at Mesa Middle School in Arroyo Grande, California and Carpinteria Middle School in Carpinteria, California with 15-20 middle school volunteer participants who enrolled in each program. Questionnaires were used to measure fruit and vegetable preferences, dietary behavior, and barriers to healthy eating, culinary skill, culinary confidence, and basic nutrition knowledge pre- and post-intervention.
Participants’ responses indicated an improved dietary profile as indicated by fruit and vegetable preferences, and fruit and vegetable intake. Responses also indicated increased culinary confidence and improved nutrition knowledge. More research is needed to test the long-term impact of participation in nutrition and culinary interventions.