BACKGROUND: Children in Appalachia are experiencing high levels of obesity, in large measure because of inferior diets. This study screened the dietary intake of third graders residing in 3 rural Appalachian counties in Ohio and determined whether the Food, Math, and Science Teaching Enhancement Resource Initiative (FoodMASTER) curriculum improved their dietary intake.
METHODS: Dietary intake was measured for 238 third graders at the beginning of the 2007 to 2008 school year and for 224 third graders at the end of that year. The FoodMASTER curriculum was delivered to 204 students (test group). Intake was measured using the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire 2004. The final analysis included 138 students.
RESULTS: The FoodMASTER curriculum did not significantly affect the diets of the students in the test group, as no significant differences in intake of macronutrients, specific nutrients, or food groups were found between the test and control groups. Majorities of students did not meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance or Adequate Intakes for fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin E. The students as a whole did not meet the MyPyramid recommendations for any food group, and nearly one fifth of their calories came from sweets. Significant differences in percentages of kilocalories from protein and sweets and in servings of fats, oils, and sweets were seen between groups of higher and lower socioeconomic status.
CONCLUSIONS: Energy-dense foods are replacing healthy foods in the diets of Ohio children living in rural Appalachia. The prevalence of poor dietary intake in Appalachia warrants further nutrition interventions involving programming for nutrition, such as future FoodMASTER curricula.