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Keywords

Matched comparison evaluation; Children’s health/nutrition program; Children’s museum; Obesity prevention

Abstract

Objectives: We evaluated the Be A Food Groupie (BAFG) program’s impact on health/nutrition knowledge among elementary students who received BAFG at HealthWorks! children’s museum.

Methods: In 2012-2013, we conducted a matched comparison evaluation using pre-/post-tests among 446 intervention and 524 comparison students (N = 970) in Grades 3-5 recruited from 11 Mississippi schools to determine whether BAFG improved health/nutrition knowledge across three domains: 1) comprehending food labels, 2) understanding serving sizes, 3) understanding food groups.

Results: After controlling for pre-test scores, ANCOVA results indicate that intervention students scored significantly higher on the post-test across all three domains and across all three grades as compared to comparison students. Third-grade intervention students had significantly higher post-test scores overall than their comparison counterparts, F (1,288) = 52.02, p < .001, h2 = .153. Fourth-grade intervention students had significantly higher post-test scores overall than their comparison counterparts, F (1,373) = 58.52, p < .001, h2 = .136. Fifth-grade intervention students had significantly higher post-test scores overall than their comparison counterparts, F (1,300) = 151.71, p < .001, h2 = .336.

Conclusion: BAFG results support the argument that interactive health/nutrition education programs at children’s museums can positively impact children’s health knowledge and, therefore, can support learning beyond the school setting. When children’s museums and schools collaborate to develop long-term partnerships to enhance children’s learning experiences that—like BAFG—meet state-mandated requirements, programmatic impacts can be further augmented. Children’s museums can provide supplemental health-related education—including obesity prevention information—that can be reinforced at school, home, and in the community.


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