Impact of a nutrition education programme on the nutrition knowledge of grade R learners in Durban

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Masters of Applied Science in Food and Nutrition
Title Impact of a nutrition education programme on the nutrition knowledge of grade R learners in Durban
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
AIM: The aim of the study was to identify the need, develop, implement and determine the effect of a
Grade R Nutrition Education Programme (NEP) in order to make recommendations to the South African
Department of Basic Education (DBE) to include an effective NEP in the pre-primary school education
OBJECTIVES: The objectives for this study is in two phases, The objective of the baseline study was
to assess the need for nutrition education (NE) in Grade R in suburban areas of Durban and identify the
most suitable nutrition education tools (NETs) for this age group.
For the intervention study the objectives were 1) to develop a nutrition knowledge questionnaire (NKQ)
to determine the existing nutrition knowledge of Grade R learners in suburban government and private
schools in Durban, 2) to develop a nutrition education programme (NEP) for Grade R based on the
South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) and the food groups, 3) to implement the NEP
in Grade R in a government and private school, 4) to determine the effect of the NEP on the retention
of FBDGs (Section one) and food group (Section two) knowledge, and 5) to compare the results
between the control group (CG) and the government (EGG) and private (EPG) experimental school
groups, and between genders.
METHODS: A self-administered nutrition education needs questionnaire was completed by 20 Grade
R teachers in Durban suburban schools.
Nutrition education material was identified based on the results from the pilot study and a Nutrition
education programme developed. The classroom-based intervention study involved 120 Grade R
learners in three schools, two experimental schools: government (n=37) and private (n=40), with a
control school (n=43), with 35 percent (n= 42) male and 65 percent (n=78) female participants, ranging
in age from five to seven years. A validated questionnaire assessed baseline nutrition knowledge of
these children. A qualified foundation phase teacher was trained to implement the NEP. The
experimental school groups received eight one hour nutrition education (NE) lessons over an eight week
period; the control group did not receive any NE. During the lesson firstly theory was covered then the
children worked on the related fun activities in the Healthy Eating Activity Book (HEAB) and lastly
involved in the nutrition educational games. These included a food group plate puzzles, a NEP board
game, a card game and ‘My little story books’. A post-test determined the impact of the intervention.
RESULTS: The baseline study confirmed the need for NE in Grade R and identified suitable NETs that
were used in the intervention.
At pre-test, the nutrition knowledge of Grade R children in the two experimental groups (EG) and one
CG was very similar with knowledge of FBDGs greater than knowledge relating to the food groups.
Both Grade R EGs showed a significant increase in knowledge for the whole test immediately after the
intervention with the CG, achieving similar post-to pre-test results. The intervention had a significant
impact on nutrition knowledge of Grade R children in both experimental schools (EGG p=0.004 and
EPG p=0.001). The EPG were most knowledgeable regarding FBDGs with no significant difference in
knowledge of the EGG. Food group knowledge in all schools was poor at baseline and the NEP resulted
in the EGG obtaining the highest post-test results. Post-intervention for the whole test the EGG were
marginally (0.80 percent) more knowledgeable than the EPG.
The knowledge of boys and girls were very similar in pre-and post-test results. However, the boys were
fractionally more knowledgeable than the girls in relation to the whole post-test. In Section two, relating
to food group knowledge, girls were slightly more knowledgeable than boys although both genders
lacked knowledge in relation to which foods belonged to a particular food group.
CONCLUSION: The primary aim of formal NE was met as the statistical significance between the CG
and experimental group post-test results was evident in the majority of Section one questions and in all
questions in Section two. The NEP resulted in similar increase in knowledge of Grade R learners in the
government and private experimental school groups in Durban. In addition, the boys and girls showed
a minimal difference in nutrition knowledge.

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