The Up for the Challenge: Health, Fitness, and Nutrition

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The Up for the Challenge.jpgThere are a number of programs out there that are for improving nutrition for low-income youth. Here at our school, The Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Program delivers research-based information and nutrition education in the home, in the classroom, and in community group settings to help Pennsylvanians with limited financial resources make better nutrition and health decisions. Under The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) which is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Penn State came up with a curriculum, The Up for the Challenge: Health, Fitness, and Nutrition, which is based on experiential learning model that is structured around direct participation in experiencing, thinking, discussing, and applying what the youth have learned to their daily lives. The curriculum includes nutrition information on MyPyramid, food descriptions, food identification, food preparation skills, and calories intake. The lessons provide expected youth outcomes, instructor's essential information, preparation instructions, supplies, lesson time, handouts, and opportunities for reflection. The overall goal of the curriculum is to promote healthful nutrition knowledge and behaviors with low-income youth.

In this article, it outlines what was used such as pretesting, post testing and delayed post testing, to determine the program effectiveness. The results where that the nutrition knowledge scores for the youth participating in nutrition education lessons from the Up for the Challenge curriculum significantly increased from pretest to posttest and delayed posttest compared to youth in the control group. Additionally nutrition behavior scores of youth increased significantly from pretest to posttest and delayed posttest compared to the control group. These results have been compared to other tests in the past, and the results were collectively the same.

Overall, the findings show that there was program effect on the treatment group. The significant improvement for nutrition knowledge and nutrition behavior scores show that the Up for the Challenge: Healthy Fitness and Nutrition curriculum can be used to change youths' knowledge and behaviors regarding nutrition. The findings also demonstrates that implementing curriculum-based nutrition education lessons using a hands-on, experiential learning approach for youth in afterschool program can have immediate effect on youths' nutrition knowledge and behaviors.



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I really enjoyed this post, specifically because it is based off of a program from Penn State! I also liked how it was based around educating the low-income youth. It's important because the youth are so important because this is the age when they start creating habits and exploring all different kinds of food selections. It's also important because they are low-income, which makes it even harder for them to try and make healthy habits and choices due to the rising cost of food. The program seems effective looking at the results, however I'm wondering if there was any parental involvement included? I think it's important that parents participate since they have such a huge impact on the home and lifestyle choices of the children.

Wow! This program seems very well put together and is obviously effective! I like that the program was focused around experimental learning because I think children learn well that way. It is so important to start teaching children about nutrition and healthy habits at a young age. This is especially important in low-income youths because they may not have access to this type of information or healthy foods at home. I hope this program will inspire other similar ones to be started!

Chris, I’m glad that you decided to write about a program that was established here at Penn State University! I think that it is very crucial that low-income youth develop the proper eating habits early in life so that way later on in life they make the right health decisions. Thus, low-income youth don’t have all of the benefits that a middle class youth is blessed with and therefore makes it even more of a necessity for them to instill healthy choices into their lives. I thought that implementing a delayed post-test with a typical pre-test and post-test was very unique as far determining program effectiveness. This serves as a follow-up I’m assuming and it really makes the evaluation of program more strenuous and concrete. What you think the meaning of this project would be from a nutritionist’s point of view?

Thank you all for your comments! I definitely think it is so incredible that this program was established here at Penn State. Furthermore, concentrating on those who undoubtedly need it the most is another great aspect of the program. Having the three types of test really do prove a crucial determinate of program effectiveness, and luckily this program does have that.
Shane- I think that a nutritionist viewing this project would think that it is very effective, and that, with the three tests show an template for future projects that that nutritionist, community nutritionist, might want to develop. He/ she could use this great program developed here a Penn State as a resource to potentially instilling other programs for great effectiveness.

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