Nutrition education intervention to improve snacking patterns of high school adolescents residing in hostels in Kampala
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Introduction: Adolescents’ diets are often nutritionally inadequate; possibly because of choosing snacks which contain a lot of calories especially with more sugar and fat and with less micronutrients. Objective: To examine the impact of nutrition education intervention on adolescents’ nutrition knowledge and snack choices. Design: It was a randomized controlled trial which employed both quantitative and qualitative method of data collection with students in two hostels with a Health Belief Model (HBM). A sample of 176 government aided secondary school students (mean age 14.2 ± 0.4) were randomly selected to participate in a 6-weeks after-school nutrition education program of 45 minutes which focused on budgeting for and consumption of healthy snacks using a theoretical framework for knowledge management implementations. Data was collected at baseline (pre-test), Follow-up 1 (6 weeks after baseline) and Follow-up 2(4 weeks after nutrition education) using a knowledge test and a 24-hour food frequency. Analysis: Repeated measures and t-tests were used to determine if there was a significant difference between the means of control and the experimental groups. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze the differences among group means and Spearman’s correlation were used to measure the linear correlation between the change in knowledge gain and snack consumption. Results: At baseline, nutrition knowledge among participants was at 43.8% and 44.3% (t=0.56, p=0.62) in the intervention and control groups which increased by 42.5% and 0.69% (t=8.62, p=0.02) accordingly at Follow-up 1. Overall, nutrition education improved healthy snack selection and consumption in the intervention group from 32% to 69% at Followup-1 which was significant (t=3.44, p=0.022). There was a positive significant relationship between improved knowledge and healthy snacks consumption (r= 0.796, p=0.021) in the intervention group after nutrition education sessions. Conclusion: Nutritional education improved nutrition knowledge of adolescents which resulted in adolescents choosing healthier snacks. There is a possibility that this reduced consumption of unhealthy snacks can be maintained up to adulthood. Recommendation; There is need to replicate this study to determine if the change in behavior can be maintained for a longer period beyond the 6 weeks.