Melnick EM; Thomas K; Farewell C; Quinlan J; LaFlamme D; Brogden D; Scarbro S; Puma JE
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact of a preschool-based nutrition education programme consisting of twelve 'hands on' nutrition education lessons delivered during the school year on young children's willingness to consume fruits and vegetables. DESIGN: Quasi-experimental, pre-post design including the collection of plate waste evaluation data at the start and end of the 2015-2016 school year within two groups: (1) randomly selected classrooms receiving the intervention and (2) within conveniently sampled preschool classrooms not receiving the intervention serving as a comparison group. SETTING: Centre-based preschool programmes serving low-income families in the Denver metro area. PARTICIPANTS: Three- to five-year-old children in preschool classrooms participating in the intervention during the 2015-2016 school year (n 308) and children enrolled in comparison classrooms (n 215). RESULTS: Repeated-measures logit models assessed whether increases in the odds of consuming small samples of fruits and vegetables between Time 1 (pre-intervention) and Time 2 (post-intervention) were different for children within the intervention group compared with the comparison group. Analyses showed that the change over time in consumption of the three vegetable samples varied by intervention status with greater change occurring among children within the intervention group (edamame: P = 0·001; cauliflower: P ≤ 0·0001 and red pepper: P ≤ 0·0001). Unlike vegetables, the change over time in consumption of the two fruit samples was not different between children within the intervention and comparison groups. CONCLUSIONS: An experiential-learning nutrition education programme can positively influence eating behaviours of low-income preschoolers in a centre-based setting by increasing willingness to consume vegetables.