Nutrition Journal publishes Johns Hopkins Research
How can we get middle schoolers excited about learning nutrition? Dr. Kohlstadt and researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition have a ready answer – youth leaders! Their findings published in this week’s Nutrition Journal are the first where high school students invent, from start to finish, an online nutrition intervention for 10 to 12 year old preadolescents.
The study harvested a bumper-crop of nutrition-themed projects as diverse as geocaching, pottery, African culture and sports journalism from high school student leaders. This gave researchers a clue to solving another challenge in online nutrition education: How can we engage the senses of smell and taste, and create a social context for healthful food selection using digital media? Again the answer is youth leaders.
The scientific basis posits preadolescents perceive high school age peers as credible and relatable. Peers therefore have a unique opportunity to engage early adolescents in positive health behaviors through nutrition learning such as that recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine, who found that academic testing scores improve with 20 hours of nutrition education per year. Now there’s a peer-to-peer intervention that can potentially engage preadolescents in social, multisensory food experiences using the sight-sound platform of digital technology.
“This project demonstrates the exciting opportunities available when we combine peer-to-peer learning and digital technologies. Tapping into social networked learning is motivating for youth. Most importantly, when learning moves online, geography is no longer the primary factor determining who has access to information and learning experiences – making the reach of any intervention virtually limitless!” says 2015 Fulbright Scholar Kerry Rice, Ed. D, Past Chair at the Department of Educational Technology, Boise State University.
In the scientific paper, titled “Youth Peers Put the ‘Invent’ in NutriBee’s Online Intervention” authors Ingrid Kohlstadt MD, MPH and Joel Gittelsohn, Ph.D. report that 19 of 27 (70%) of selected youth from 12 states and diverse backgrounds, created an online curriculum comprising 10% of NutriBee’s 20-hour intervention. All 19 online projects modeled 1 or more of NutriBee’s 10 positive health behaviors; 8 evoked the chemosenses; 6 conveyed food texture; and 13 provided social context. Additionally, peer leaders perceived career advancement and service learning benefits.