Nutrition knowledge of Grade R learners in Durban suburban schools: an intervention study
The aim was to determine the effect of a nutrition education programme (NEP) on the nutrition knowledge of Grade R learners. The study was conducted in four phases.
Grade R educators (n=20) from randomly selected urban government and private schools in Durban completed a nutrition education questionnaire (NEQ) to identify activities and visuals suitable for this age group (Phase 1). Consequently, a classroom-based NEP was developed by the researcher in consultation with the foundation phase teacher recruited to teach the NEP. The participating schools were randomly selected from the 20 that had participated in the NEQ. A nutrition knowledge questionnaire (NKQ) was developed and tested. Fieldworkers and educators were sourced and trained (Phase 2). The intervention involved 120 Grade R learners in three schools: a government school (Experimental group – EGG) (n=37), a private school (Experimental group – EPG) (n=40) and one Control group (CG) (n=43), a private school. The same foundation phase teacher implemented the eight-hour (eight-week) NEP to Grade R learners in each experimental group (EG); the CG did not receive any nutrition education (NE) (Phase 3). Pre- and post-test knowledge was assessed using a validated NKQ (Phase 4).\
The educators’ NEQ results confirmed the need for NE with suitable activities. For the NKQ the Cronbach Alpha score at 0.532 was achieved and the questionnaire was accepted as valid and reliable. For the intervention, One-way ANOVA was used to determine the total group’s correct answers between pre-and post-test between the three schools. Statistical significant differences between two schools were observed using Independent t-test. The NEP pre-implementation test score indicated similar correct answers and not statistically significant between the three groups (EGG 72.43%, EPG 70.83% and CG 69.15%), with the EGG boys most knowledgeable (73.32%). For the whole test, it was the EGG (88.30%) that achieved a marginally higher percentage of correct answers post-test than the EPG (87.50%) with a significant (p=0.035) post-test difference between EGG (83.30) and CG (71.47). The NEP post-test results indicated that the EG girls (EGG 89.62% and EPG 87.50%) were more knowledgeable than the boys (EGG 87.00%), an insignificant difference. The study concludes that a resource-dense NEP with children actively involved in a non-threatening environment will increase nutrition knowledge.