Impact and process evaluation of a primary-school Food Education and Sustainability Training (FEAST) program in 10-12-year-old children in Australia: pragmatic cluster non-randomized controlled trial.

Publication date: Mar 01, 2024

Environmentally sustainable food initiatives accompanying nutrition education, such as the Food Education and Sustainability Training (FEAST) program, have gained traction in school settings. The aim of this trial was to conduct an impact and process evaluation of FEAST, to evaluate its effect on children’s fruit and vegetable (F&V) intakes, and secondary outcomes: F&V variety consumed, nutrition knowledge, food preparation/cooking skills, self-efficacy and behaviours, food waste knowledge and behaviours, and food production knowledge. FEAST was a 10-week curriculum-aligned program, designed to educate children about healthy eating, food waste, and sustainability, while teaching cooking skills. It was implemented by classroom teachers, face-to-face and online, during COVID-19 school closures, in Australia in 2021. A custom designed survey was used to collect baseline and post-intervention data from students. Generalised linear mixed models (GLMM) estimated group differences in pre-post changes for primary and secondary outcomes. Surveys were also administered to students and teachers to evaluate intervention implementation. Twenty schools participated and self-selected to be either intervention schools (n = 10) or wait-list control (WLC) schools (n = 10). A total of 977, 5th and 6th grade children participated in the trial with a mean age of 11. 1 years (SD +/- 0. 7). The FEAST intervention, compared to WLC, did not result in significant increases in primary outcomes nor secondary outcomes. The process evaluation revealed FEAST was well-received by students and teachers, but COVID-19 school closures hindered implementation fidelity with a less intense program delivered under the constraints of pandemic lockdowns. This is the first cluster non-randomized controlled trial designed to independently evaluate FEAST in the primary-school setting. No evidence was found for improved F&V intakes in children, nor secondary outcomes. However, the positive process evaluation results suggest that further trials of the program are warranted. If implemented as originally designed (pre-pandemic), with increased duration and complemented by supporting school policies, such programs have the potential to improve children’s daily F&V intakes, cooking skills and food waste behaviours. This would support the Australian curriculum and contribute to: health promotion within schools and sustainable schools initiatives, the national agenda to reduce food waste and sustainable development goals. AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND CLINICAL TRIALS REGISTRY: [ACTRN12620001347954]- Registered prospectively on 14/12/2020.

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Concepts Keywords
Actrn12620001347954 Australia
Australian Child
Nutrition Children
Pandemic COVID-19
Week Education
Food
Food
Fruit
Humans
Impact evaluation
Nutrition
Process evaluation
Refuse Disposal
School
Schools
Sustainability
Vegetable

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease IDO process
disease IDO production
disease MESH COVID-19
disease IDO intervention
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease MESH overweight
disease MESH obesity
disease MESH type 2 diabetes
disease MESH cardiovascular disease
disease MESH stroke
disease MESH cancers
disease VO effectiveness
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO frequency
disease VO protocol
drug DRUGBANK Methionine
drug DRUGBANK Pentaerythritol tetranitrate
drug DRUGBANK Honey
drug DRUGBANK L-Valine
drug DRUGBANK Trihexyphenidyl
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease VO age
drug DRUGBANK Hyaluronic acid
disease VO effective
disease MESH allergic reaction
disease VO Optaflu
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease VO LACK
disease MESH psychological distress
drug DRUGBANK Ranitidine
disease MESH Amelia
drug DRUGBANK L-Phenylalanine
disease VO cancer
disease MESH underweight
disease VO population
disease MESH chronic diseases
disease MESH weight gain
drug DRUGBANK Ribostamycin
drug DRUGBANK Isoxaflutole
disease VO report
disease VO Canada
disease VO Pra
drug DRUGBANK Diethylstilbestrol
disease MESH Lifestyle
drug DRUGBANK Bean
drug DRUGBANK Vorinostat

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