A Series of Systematic Reviews on the Effects of Nutrition Education on Children’s and Adolescents’ Dietary Intake
Consuming a healthy diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 can help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, and promote good health. However, many children are consuming excess calories, while not meeting nutrient needs, and are overweight/obese and/or at increased risk for a variety of chronic diseases. The USDA supports and funds a wide range of nutrition education programs, delivered via different methods and channels, designed to help Americans consume healthier diets. The purpose of this project was to conduct a series of systematic reviews to better understand how to effectively deliver nutrition education to improve the dietary intake-related behaviors of children and adolescents, and promote consumption of a healthy diet consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (DGA 2010). The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA supported this research in order to answer targeted nutrition education-related questions to inform guidance, policy, and program development related to FNS-administered nutrition education programs.
The systematic review questions addressed were identified and prioritized to focus the reviews on topics that would enhance current nutrition education practice and programs. A broad range of school- and community-based nutrition education interventions involving children in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school and adolescents in middle and high school were considered, in order to answer the following systematic review questions:
- What is the effect of nutrition education delivered via digital media and/or technology on children’s and adolescents’ dietary intake-related behaviors?
- What is the effect of nutrition education with parental involvement compared to no parental involvement on children’s and adolescents’ dietary intake-related behaviors?
- Which type of educator who delivers nutrition education is most effective in changing children’s and adolescents’ dietary intake-related behaviors?
- What are the effects of combining changes to the food environment and nutrition education compared to either of these strategies alone on children’s and adolescents’ dietary intake-related behaviors?
- What are the effects of multi-component compared to single-component nutrition education interventions on children’s and adolescents’ dietary intake-related behaviors?
Background and Methodology
USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) conducted these systematic reviews. The NEL uses a rigorous, transparent, and reproducible methodology to conduct systematic reviews on food- and nutrition-related topics to support Federal nutrition policies and programs using a six-step process:
- Develop systematic review questions
- Create and implement literature search and sort plans
- Develop evidence portfolios
- Synthesize the bodies of evidence
- Develop conclusion statements and grade the evidence
- Describe research recommendations.
This NEL systematic review project was planned, organized, and guided by a NEL Systematic Review Management Team composed of Federal nutritionists trained in systematic review methodology. The NEL Systematic review team worked with a Technical Expert Collaborative (TEC), which consisted of eight leading nutrition education experts, whose expertise was needed to address specific issues related to the topic of nutrition education and to guide synthesis of the body of evidence to answer the systematic review questions posed. A Stakeholder Group, which included Federal employees who represented end-users of the review and possessed varying perspectives and expertise related to nutrition education, provided input throughout the process.
See Nutrition Education Systematic Review Project: Methodology for more information.
 US Department of Agriculture & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 (7th Ed). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2010.