Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Heidi J. Wengreen


Heidi J. Wengreen


Gregory Madden


Marlene Israelsen


Adolescents are not consuming the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables (FV). An overall decrease in diet quality is seen as adolescents get older, with decreases in fruit and vegetable intake and increases in energy dense food intake. The aim of this study was to test whether or not the Food Dudes (FD) healthy eating program helps to prevent decreases in fruit and vegetable intake and increases in energy dense foods during the transition from elementary school into middle school.

Past FD studies supported the use of repeated tasting, rewards, and role modeling to encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables at school with data from studies of young children. A review of available literature on effectiveness of these techniques in adolescents found evidence that the program may also be effective for adolescents.

Participants were 4th and 5th graders (n=874) from 6 elementary schools, recruited during the 2011-2012 school year. Treatment group was assigned by school and included a prize condition, a praise condition, and a control. Students were followed into the 2012-2013 school year when the 5th grade cohort entered middle school. During 2012-2013 an additional control group was recruited from three middle schools (n = 154).

Results showed short term success at increasing FV intake and that the program had some long term success preventing large drops in FV intake. A small to medium positive correlation was seen between energy dense snack foods and total FV intake (r ranging from .125 to .355, p

The results of this study suggest that the FD program may play a role in helping to maintain lunch time FV intake during the transition into middle school. The results for the impact on total FV intake and total diet were less conclusive due to problems in the self-reported data. Future studies on this topic should look for a better method for tracking changes in total FV intake and total diet.



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