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Can nutrition education in primary school students affect dietary habits?
Masha Mohajeri, Sepideh Sepahi, Ali Nemati, Farideh Iranpour
Objective: To investigate the impact of school nutrition education on children’s dietary habits in Ardabil, Iran.
Design: A 12-week intervention with nutrition education was conducted in three primary schools in Ardabil. A total of 600 female students in grades 4 and 5 (10–12 years old) were enrolled in the study and divided into an intervention group and a control group. Dietary data were recorded in a food diary and the amount of different types of food consumed was noted. Data were analysed using independent and paired t-tests, and Wilcoxon and Mann-Whitney tests.
Results: The children in the intervention group reported significantly (p≤0.05) increased consumption of fruit, vegetables and dairy products following education: the mean±SD number of servings of fruit and vegetables after education was 3.2±0.02 and 1.02±0.03, respectively,i n the intervention group. The consumption of chips and sugar-sweetened drinks was significantly (p≤0.05) decreased in intervention group children, while the consumption of oily seeds was significantly (p=0.042) increased. There was a significant difference in the diet diversity score of the intervention group (p=0.032) which had a mean±SD diet diversity score of 5±0.06 groups/day. Nutrition education can affect dietary habits, such as the consumption of fruit, vegetables and dairy products, and can improve diet diversity in school students.