Date of Completion
Dr. Stacey Mobley, Dr. Amy Gorin
Field of Study
Master of Science
Objective: To determine the impact of a nutrition education program on preschoolers’ snack choices when offered one healthy (grapes) or one unhealthy food (cookies).
Methods: This pre/post test experimental study included children ages 3-5 years old (n=45) from one preschool. Each child within a classroom (10-20 children) received the same nutrition education program (All 4 Kids) intervention (9, 30 minute lessons) taught by one registered dietitian over 2-weeks. Pre and post assessments included a snack knowledge and preference questionnaire and an observed snack selection trial to test the impact of the intervention. Children’s height and weight were measured and body mass index z-scores calculated. Parental reports of child’s food preferences, child demographics and other related variables were collected at baseline.
Results:Overall, preschool children did not significantly improve (p>0.05) their snack choice between a healthy and unhealthy choice after the nutrition education program. However, there was significant improvement in reported preferences of healthier snacks (p=0.03) and the ability to distinguish them (p=0.03) from other snacks. Children who were younger (p=0.003) or who had higher nutrition knowledge scores (p=0.002) were more likely to select the healthy snack after the intervention.
Conclusions and Implications: A short nutrition education program improves preschool children’s knowledge but does not translate to healthier snack selections for all children. More nutrition education at an earlier age may be needed. Future research should investigate the optimal duration of a nutrition education program and what other external influences (parents, childcare) are most influential on snack choice and obesity risk.
Joseph, Laura, "Does Nutrition Education Influence Snack Choices of Preschoolers?" (2014). Master's Theses. 617.
Dr. Amy Mobley