Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Siew Sun Wong


Siew Sun Wong


Heidi Wengreen


Héctor Mendiola


Ann B. Austin


Each year, teen pregnancy occurs in 750,000 15-to-19 year-old women in the United States (U.S.). Utah has the youngest population and the lowest teen abortion rates in the U.S. Approximately 73% of teen pregnancies in Utah result in live births. The prevalence of teen pregnancy and the nutritional risk to mother and child result in a much greater need for social support, such as nutrition education. Current literature shows that the paraprofessional model is effective in increasing positive behavior change through nutrition education. Presently, there is a lack of evidence that paraprofessional teens are capable of accurately and effectively teaching their peers nutrition information. This pilot study aims to measure the effectiveness of the peer-teaching-peer paraprofessional model in teen parenting nutrition education, and to demonstrate that peer educators ages 18-22 are capable of teaching their peers accurate nutrition information as effectively as adult paraprofessionals. In this pilot study, two females were trained to become paraprofessional peer educators. To supplement the training of peer educators, this pilot study developed and recorded a nutrition presentation for all six lessons of the paper version Missouri Extension Teen Parenting curriculum. Each trained peer educator taught 10 to 13 clients (ages 14 to 19) over three weeks. For evaluation, the study used pre/post comparisons. Assessment tools include teaching evaluations, pre-post test on nutrition knowledge, 24-hour dietary and physical activity recalls, and behavioral checklist. There was a significant difference in pre-post tests in knowledge, behavior, and exit survey among participants, indicating that peer educators are able to teach their peers effectively. Although not significant, peer educators' teaching accuracy score was high and improved consistently. Eighty-three of participants like or very much liked to be taught by their peers. Findings from this study showed great potential in having adolescents teach their peers as effectively as older educators.



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