Evaluating the impact of six supplemental nutrition assistance program education interventions on children’s at-home diets
Background. Nutrition education in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) is designed to promote healthy eating behaviors in a low-income target population. Purpose. To evaluate the effectiveness of six SNAP-Ed interventions delivered in child care centers or elementary school settings in increasing participating children’s at-home fruit and vegetable (F/V) consumption by 0.3 cups per day and use of fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole or reduced-fat milk during the prior week. Method. Clustered randomized or quasi-experimental clustered trials took place in child care centers or elementary schools between 2010 and 2012. Parents of children at intervention and control sites completed baseline and follow-up surveys about their child’s at home F/V consumption and other dietary behaviors. Results. One of the six interventions was successful in meeting the objective of increasing children’s F/V consumption by 0.3 cups per day. For three of the six interventions, there was a small but statistically significant increase in F/V consumption and/or use of low-fat or fat-free milk. Conclusion. Although not all interventions were effective, these findings suggest that it is possible for some SNAP-Ed interventions to improve dietary habits among low-income children among some families. The effective interventions appear to have benefited from implementation experience and sustained efforts at intervention refinement and improvement.