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Master of Science (M.S.)
Year Degree Awarded
Month Degree Awarded
nutrition, education, puppet, vegetable, children, sensory
Multi-sensory nutrition education interventions aimed at promoting children’s preferences for vegetables have the potential to positively impact children’s intake of essential micronutrients and phytochemicals. We implemented our intervention in Western Massachusetts Head Start preschool classrooms, as part of Massachusetts Farm Fresh research project. Social cognitive theory, early childhood developmental milestones, and the play approach to learning provided the framework. During the 4-week intervention, eight vegetables were matched by appearance and growing process to create vegetable pairs (green bean-sugar snap pea, broccoli-cauliflower, beet-radish, and carrot-parsnip). Each week, two animal puppets introduced the children in the classroom to the vegetable pairs by highlighting the vegetable’s color, shape, texture, and growth process. Complete baseline and follow-up consumption data were available for 60 three to five year old children. Total mean consumption (g) increased pre-post intervention (pre: 14.75 + 1.38 vs. post: 17.83 + 2.05 g) (p= 0.06). Specifically, mean consumption (g) increased for peas (pre: 1.32 + 0.26 vs. post: 2.03 + 0.36 g) (p=0.04), parsnips (pre: 1.31 + 0.24 vs. post: 2.06 + 0.35 g) (p=0.04), and for the high-sugar content vegetables (pre: 7.41 + 0.82 vs. post: 9.75 +1.14 g) (p=0.02). Mean consumption of the red and white colored vegetables respectively were (pre: 2.66 + 0.41 vs. post: 3.68 + 0.54 g) (p=0.07) and (pre: 2.81 + 0.46 vs. post: 3.93 + 0.61) (p=0.08). Findings suggest that a puppet based nutrition education intervention highlighting the sensory attributes has the potential to increase young children’s consumption of vegetables.