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Teachers Help Make Choice, Control & Change Successful at Changing How Students Eat

Great teachers help students learn better. What we didn’t know until now is that great teaching can also help youth to eat better.

That’s what a new study published in Health Education Research by the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy found. Head researcher, Heewon Lee Gray, set out to investigate “what happened” inside middle school classrooms in underserved schools that taught Choice, Control & Change, a curriculum developed by the Tisch Food Center. Choice, Control & Change is based on the best of “behavioral nutrition” to unfold the lessons’ content and activities in ways that maximize ability to change behaviors.

Dr. Gray observed teachers in 20 classrooms to see how they followed the lesson plans, which activities they completed, and how much and in what ways students participated. Then she examined how these factors influenced how students eat. The best outcomes were found in classrooms where teachers were enthusiastic about the lessons, had high quality implementation and completed at least two-thirds of the activities. Those students reduced sugar-sweetened beverage and processed snack consumption, and chose smaller portion sizes at fast food restaurants when compared to students in lower quality implementation classes and students in a control group. What’s more, the students in the high implementation classrooms had more confidence they could keep up with their healthy choices into the future.

“This study highlights how important teachers are for nutrition education to change behaviors. To scale up this type of program we depend on teachers who can influence students’ engagement in activities and how much students connect what they learn to their day-to-day lives,” says Gray. To that end, the Tisch Food Center has created video and resources to help teachers get excited about and increase their confidence in teaching Choice, Control & Change. See www.tc.edu/tisch/c3.

 Choice, Control & Change is an evidence-based nutrition education curriculum that can be implemented as part of a middle school science curriculum, integrating nutrition education into the regular school day. It is the third module in the Tisch Food Center’s Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series. Choice, Control & Change, and the accompanying web-based resources, were developed with funding from a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award, RR20412.

 The Tisch Food Center cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. It has three broad areas of research: food systems, nutrition education, and public policy. The Tisch Food Center focuses on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. More at www.tc.edu/tisch

Published Thursday, Mar. 19, 2015

Teachers Help Make Choice, Control & Change Successful at Changing How Students Eat

That’s what a new study published in Health Education Research by the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy found. Head researcher, Heewon Lee Gray, set out to investigate “what happened” inside middle school classrooms in underserved schools that taught Choice, Control & Change, a curriculum developed by the Tisch Food Center. Choice, Control & Change is based on the best of “behavioral nutrition” to unfold the lessons’ content and activities in ways that maximize ability to change behaviors.

Dr. Gray observed teachers in 20 classrooms to see how they followed the lesson plans, which activities they completed, and how much and in what ways students participated. Then she examined how these factors influenced how students eat. The best outcomes were found in classrooms where teachers were enthusiastic about the lessons, had high quality implementation and completed at least two-thirds of the activities. Those students reduced sugar-sweetened beverage and processed snack consumption, and chose smaller portion sizes at fast food restaurants when compared to students in lower quality implementation classes and students in a control group. What’s more, the students in the high implementation classrooms had more confidence they could keep up with their healthy choices into the future.

“This study highlights how important teachers are for nutrition education to change behaviors. To scale up this type of program we depend on teachers who can influence students’ engagement in activities and how much students connect what they learn to their day-to-day lives,” says Gray. To that end, the Tisch Food Center has created video and resources to help teachers get excited about and increase their confidence in teaching Choice, Control & Change. See www.tc.edu/tisch/c3.

 Choice, Control & Change is an evidence-based nutrition education curriculum that can be implemented as part of a middle school science curriculum, integrating nutrition education into the regular school day. It is the third module in the Tisch Food Center’s Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series. Choice, Control & Change, and the accompanying web-based resources, were developed with funding from a National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award, RR20412.

 The Tisch Food Center cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. It has three broad areas of research: food systems, nutrition education, and public policy. The Tisch Food Center focuses on schools as critical levers for learning and social change. More at www.tc.edu/tisch

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