Designing and Implementing a Successful Elementary School Vegetable Snack Program
Jamelske, Eric M.
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Poor nutrition among American children, including low fruit and vegetable intake have contributed to rising rates of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood. Additionally, low intake of fruits and vegetables is correlated with increased risk for a variety of costly chronic diseases. Thus, increasing children’s fruit and vegetable consumption has become an important focus among practitioners, policymakers and researchers. Prior research indicates children eat more fruits than vegetables, but vegetables have significantly lower sugar and caloric content. Thus, increasing children's vegetable consumption is a priority in addressing childhood obesity. We partnered with one local elementary school to implement a vegetable snack program. This poster outlines our motivation and describes the study design and objectives/procedures for our measurement and analysis. Study participants included students (N=218) and teachers (N=12) in grades K-3. Children were served grape tomatoes, baby carrots and green pepper strips for afternoon snack eight times each over 24 days. Pre and post weights were recorded to calculate consumption for each child on each snack day. One classroom from each grade was assigned to a unique intervention condition (no encouragement, moderate encouragement and high encouragement) for the first six servings of each vegetable. All classrooms were assigned to the no encouragement condition for the final two servings of each vegetable. Throughout the study, no dips or dressings were provided to students to further encourage consumption. From past experiences we know that planning and setting up the design and outlining roles, duties and responsibilities of all participants is extremely important to generating meaningful data for analysis.