Background

Food Day is a national event that inspires communities to make healthy food choices. Each year Real Food for Kids partners with an elementary school in Northern Virginia to celebrate Food Day with a multi-faceted student experience focused on nutrition education and physical activity designed to build enthusiasm for healthy choices. The activities have been well received by the studentsbut no evaluation of the effectiveness has been performed. The aim of this study was 1) to develop an easy to implement questionnaire to test the effectiveness of the Food Day activities on the knowledge of healthy behaviors, 2) to evaluate the effectiveness of Food Day activities on the knowledge of healthy behaviors of elementary school students.

Methods

A pre-post test design was used to assess the knowledge of healthy behaviors before and after Food Day activities. The questionnaire, consisted of three categories: 1. Which food/activity is the better choice? 2. Which food/activity do you prefer? 3. Which foods give you more energy to play? Question 1 and 2 existed of 6 sub questions. The questionnaire was distributed to 884 students in grades 1-6.

Results

The number of students who were able to identify all healthy foods after the Food Day activities increased by 16% (p<0.05). This change was most noticeable in grades 1-4. Food Day activities did not significantly change food preferences or the ability to identify foods that provide energy.

Conclusions

The results of this study reveal that increase in knowledge of healthy behaviors was observed after Food Day event. However, there was no change in food preference among children, Moreover, although no significant change was found in the knowledge of energy food choice, an increased trend of energy foods choice had been shown. This was probably because this education event is too short to get a change in food preference. A long-term intervention should be involved in the preference change