Date of Award:

5-2009

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

Nedra K. Christensen

Abstract

Childhood obesity rates are on the rise. There are detrimental physical and psychological health effects associated with childhood obesity. Society needs proven methods of delivering nutrition and physical activity education to children. The Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) 4-H model has been shown to be effective at delivering curriculum in a variety of topics. To assess the effectiveness of the TRY 4-H model at delivering nutrition and physical activity education to youth, grades third through sixth. The program's objectives were to increase youth participants' nutritional knowledge, improve youth participants' eating and fitness habits, and improve leadership and life skills of the teens involved in the TRY 4-H program. We compared three groups of youth grades third through sixth in Northern Utah. We looked at the youth's nutrition knowledge and food preferences as well as their parents/guardians' behaviors. Then two of the groups participated in a nutrition and physical activity education program. One group was taught by TRY 4-H teams and the other group was taught by adult volunteers from the community. After participating in the program, the youth's nutrition knowledge and food preferences and their parents/guardians' behaviors were re-assessed. The control group was unavailable for re-assessment due to limited access. Teen leadership was assessed using a teen leadership and life skills assessment tool. At baseline, the three samples had no statistical differences. The TRY 4-H treatment and Adult Volunteer treatment were found to produce statistically similar nutrition knowledge out-comes. Parents/guardians reported improvements in youth participant nutrition and physical activity habits. Teen members of the TRY teams experienced an increase in leadership and life skills. Teens from the TRY 4-H program are as effective as adult volunteers at teaching younger youth about nutrition. This education delivery method should be utilized in additional communities to aid in the fight against childhood obesity.

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