A Pilot Study to Examine the Effects of a Nutrition Intervention on Nutrition Knowledge, Behaviors, and Efficacy Expectations in Middle School Children


  • This study was conducted as part of a larger project called the Detroit Healthy Youth Initiative funded by a Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant. The contents of this report were developed under a grant from the Department of Education. However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement but the federal government.

Mariane M. Fahlman, Associate Professor, (m.fahlman@wayne.edu), Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies, Wayne State University, 5101 John C Lodge Service Dr, Matthaei 262, Detroit, MI 48208.


Background:  This was a pilot study to determine the impact of the Michigan Model (MM) Nutrition Curriculum on nutrition knowledge, efficacy expectations, and eating behaviors in middle school students.

Methods:  The study was conducted in a large metropolitan setting and approved by the Institutional Review Board. The participants for this study were divided into an intervention group (n = 407) and a control group (n = 169). An MM instructor trained health teachers in the use of the curriculum, and the teacher subsequently taught the curriculum to students in the intervention group. A valid and reliable questionnaire was used to determine pre-post differences. It consisted of 3 subscales assessing eating habits, nutrition knowledge, and efficacy expectations toward healthy eating. Subscale scores were analyzed using a 2 groups (intervention vs control) × 2 times (pre vs post) analysis of variance.

Results:  The intervention group increased their nutrition knowledge at post. There was also a significant main effect for groups in the subscales “Eating Behaviors” and “Efficacy Expectations Regarding Healthy Eating.” Subsequent post hoc analysis revealed that the intervention group was significantly more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and less likely to eat junk food than the control group. Students in the intervention group also felt more confident that they could eat healthy.

Conclusions:  The results of this pilot study suggest that the MM Nutrition Curriculum delivered by trained professionals resulted in significant positive changes in both nutrition knowledge and behaviors in middle school children. Further research needs to be conducted to determine the long-term impact.