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Healthy Planet, Healthy Youth: A Food Systems Education and Promotion Intervention to Improve Adolescent Diet Quality and Reduce Food Waste

1
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
2
Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL 61820, USA
3
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1869; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081869
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 2 August 2019 / Accepted: 8 August 2019 / Published: 11 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Adolescent Dietary Behaviour)
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Abstract

Emerging evidence suggests a link between young people’s interest in alternative food production practices and dietary quality. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a student-driven sustainable food systems education and promotion intervention on adolescent school lunch selection, consumption, and waste behaviors. Sixth grade science teachers at two middle schools (n = 268 students) implemented a standards-based curriculum on sustainable food systems, addressing the environmental impacts of food choices and food waste. The cumulating curriculum activity required the 6th grade students to share their food systems knowledge with their 7th and 8th grade counterparts (n = 426) through a cafeteria promotional campaign to discourage food waste. School-wide monthly plate waste assessments were used to evaluate changes in vegetable consumption and overall plate waste using a previously validated digital photography method. At baseline, the intervention students consumed significantly less vegetables relative to the control group (47.1% and 71.8% of vegetables selected, respectively (p = 0.006). This disparity was eliminated after the intervention with the intervention group consuming 69.4% and the control consuming 68.1% of selected vegetables (p = 0.848). At five months follow up, the intervention group wasted significantly less salad bar vegetables compared to the control group (24.2 g and 50.1 g respectively (p = 0.029). These findings suggest that food systems education can be used to promote improved dietary behaviors among adolescent youth. View Full-Text
Keywords: food systems; school nutrition; food waste; adolescents; implementation science food systems; school nutrition; food waste; adolescents; implementation science
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Prescott, M.P.; Burg, X.; Metcalfe, J.J.; Lipka, A.E.; Herritt, C.; Cunningham-Sabo, L. Healthy Planet, Healthy Youth: A Food Systems Education and Promotion Intervention to Improve Adolescent Diet Quality and Reduce Food Waste. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1869.

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