The impact of a nutrition programme on the dietary intake patterns of primary school children
AbstractObjective: The aim of this study was to improve the dietary intake patterns and food choices of children aged 9-13 years in a periurban
Methods: Two schools were randomly selected from within this periurban community. A nutrition education programme was implemented
over one school term, with the testing of nutrition knowledge occurring pre- and post-intervention, and in the long term, with the experimental
group only. A validated 24-hour recall questionnaire was completed pre- and post-intervention by both the control (n = 91) and experimental
groups (n = 81), and in the long term, by the experimental group. Food models were used to assist in the estimation of portion sizes and
identification of food items. The questionnaire was analysed using the computer software programme FoodFinder 3, with means and standard
deviations calculated for macro- and micronutrients, and comparisons made with dietary reference intakes for specific age groups. A list was
drawn up of the 20 most commonly consumed food items, based on weights consumed. Paired t-tests were conducted to assess significance
in dietary intake and food choices after the intervention. Correlations between knowledge and dietary choices were determined among the
experimental group in the long-term measurements.
Results: Correlations linked protein intake to knowledge of proteins, and vitamin C intake to knowledge of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and
vegetable intake remained very low. Refined sugars and fat were still consumed among the experimental group. The diet for both groups was
based on carbohydrates.
Conclusions: The objective of changing the dietary intake patterns of the children was not achieved. The intake of legumes, fruit and vegetables remained low. The lack of variety in intake results in a diet that does not meet the daily requirements of children.
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