Eating Smart • Being Active

Colorado State University


Eating Smart • Being Activeis a direct education healthy eating, active living intervention designed for paraprofessional nutrition educators to use when teaching low-income families to learn healthy lifestyle choices. The curriculum consists of nine core lessons, designed to be taught in order, and three supplemental infant and maternal lessons designed to be taught to pregnant and breastfeeding women. The teaching techniques in the lesson plans of Eating Smart • Being Active are based on adult learning principles, dialogue-based learning and learner-centered education. 

Target Behavior: Breastfeeding, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity

Intervention Type:  Direct Education

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Eating Smart • Being Active targets adults in community settings.

Setting: Community, Faith-based community, School

Target Audience: Adults, Parents/Mothers/Fathers

Race/Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

Eating Smart • Being Active includes nine core lessons and three supplemental infant and maternal lessons that teach the main messages of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 and MyPlate:

Nine core lessons: 

  • Welcome to Eating Smart Being Active 
  • Get Moving! 
  • Plan, Shop, $ave 
  • Fruits & Veggies: Half Your Plate 
  • Make Half Your Grains Whole 
  • Go Lean With Protein 
  • Build Strong Bones 
  • Make a Change 
  • Celebrate! Eat Smart & Be Active 

Three supplemental infant and maternal lessons: 

  • Eating Smart and Being Active During Pregnancy
  • Feed Your New Baby
  • Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods 

Each lesson contains physical activity, participants actively involved in food preparation, and tips for food safety, saving money at the grocery store, and parenting related to the topic of the lesson. 

Intervention Materials

Although the Eating Smart • Being Active curriculum is based on nutrition and physical activity information, it is not a detailed nutrition knowledge class.  Rather, the emphasis is on skills needed to make healthy choices.  The lessons in Eating Smart • Being Active are activity-based to ensure that participants have opportunities to practice these skills based on learning theories which have proven successful with adult learners. Materials include the following: Visuals, Worksheets, Handouts, Enhancement items, Graduation certificates. Additional information on the materials can be found at

Intervention Costs

Cost for the curriculum depends on how much of a 90-piece curriculum a person wants to order.

Evidence Summary

Before Eating  Smart ● Being Active was developed, a needs assessment was conducted to identify which state EFNEP programs were either editing current curricula or writing new curricula as a result of the major changes in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as compared to the previous version AND the release of MyPyramid to replace the Food Guide Pyramid.  From this evaluation, researchers discovered that most states didn’t know what they were going to do AND that the curricula most commonly used around the country were not going to be updated.  This led researchers to choose to develop a whole new curriculum – Eating Smart ● Being Active.

Several evaluation studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of Eating Smart ● Being Active.   Specifically, curriculum developers utilized experts in adult education, nutrition and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) from multiple states to review the curriculum during its development.  Reviewers assessed the curriculum and confirmed it adhered to and effectively applied the tenets and principles of Social Cognitive Theory and Adult Learning and the content was based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Eating Smart • Being Active has since been updated to reflect the 2015 Dietary Guidelines and is currently being updated for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

In a separate research project, researchers compared behavior change outcomes from Eating Smart • Being Active with behavior change outcomes of prior EFNEP curricula in five states.  Eating Smart • Being Active generally produced better outcomes than curricula used previously.  In addition, when comparing pre and post test scores from participants taught Eating Smart • Being Active, participants reported significant, positive behavior change in food resource management, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity.  Researchers also found that participants who received Eating Smart • Being Active increased their fruit and vegetable intakes. This research is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and won the Best Article Award for 2016.  Similar results were seen in an Iowa study of a draft version of Eating Smart • Being Active.

Lastly, two qualitative evaluations of the curriculum were conducted using focus groups and interviews; investigators are currently preparing these results for publication.  The first study focused on the physical activity aspects of Eating Smart • Being Active; researchers found that the participants, paraprofessionals and state level coordinators from four states generally liked the physical activity components of the lessons and that participants make positive behavior changes as a result of the physical activity content of Eating Smart • Being Active. The second study looked at the satisfaction of ESBA among paraprofessionals and state level coordinators from four states.  Generally both groups like the curriculum, found the curriculum easy to use, found that their participants like the curriculum and think that the curriculum content makes a difference in their participants’ lives.

Eating Smart • Being Active was piloted by four states (California, Colorado, Iowa, and South Carolina) for six months.  Results from the pilot and formative evaluation (described above) drove the editing process leading to the original version of Eating Smart • Being Active.  The curriculum was released in 2008, revised in 2010 and again in 2017 and is now being used by EFNEP and/or SNAP-Ed programs in 80 states and US territories. Currently, Eating Smart • Being Active is being revised to comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 and to incorporate feedback from frontline workers across the country as well as to provide a fresh, modern look to the curriculum materials.  The revised version of Eating Smart • Being Active will be available in early 2022.

Programs report increased behavior change in their programs as a result of implementing Eating Smart • Being Active.  Specifically in Colorado in FY16, as a result of graduating from Eating Smart • Being Active:

  • 93% of participants showed improvement in nutrition practices
  • 91% of participants showed improvement in food resource management
  • 63% of participants showed improvement in food safety
  • 52% of participants showed improvement in physical activity
  • 47% of participants showed improvement in vegetable consumption
  • 43% of participants showed improvement in fruit consumption
  • 44% of participants decreased their daily consumption of sodium
  • 40% of participants more often choose low-fat foods

Classification: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

Readiness and Capacity – Short Term (ST) Changes – Medium Term (MT) Effectiveness and Maintenance – Long Term (LT) Population Results (R)
Individual ST1, ST2, ST3, ST4 MT1, MT2, MT3, MT4
Environmental Settings
Sectors of Influence

Evaluation Materials

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and exit form and 24-hour recall are used by programs to evaluate the impact of Eating Smart • Being Active pre/post intervention.  EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programs that choose to use these evaluation tools enter completed data into WebNEERS, EFNEP’s national reporting system. These forms are available on the Eating Smart • Being Active website.

Additional Information

Website: The Eating Smart • Being Active website ( includes an overview of the curriculum, materials for purchase, and a description of the evidence-base of the curriculum.

Contact Person(s):

Ashley Clark 

Curriculum Technology and Customer Support Lead 

Colorado State University 

Phone: 970-491-5922 



Susan Baker

EFNEP Coordinator

Colorado State University

Phone: 970-491-5798