Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Sarah Colby

Committee Members

Marsha Spence, Katie Kavanagh


Childhood obesity remains a major concern in the United States, as 17% of children and adolescents ages 2-18 are obese. Although changes in knowledge alone are not enough to change behavior, most successful nutrition interventions to reduce childhood obesity include nutrition education. The purpose of this study is to understand practices that impact the effectiveness of childhood nutrition education, and to identify expert opinions of essential best practices for childhood nutrition education. A literature review was conducted to identify previously established best practices for childhood nutrition education for 6-12 year olds. Eight sources were identified, and 33 best practices were cited. Ten members of a USDA multi-state research group reviewed the best practices and edits were made according to their feedback. Three practices were added, and four were deleted. In order to understand experts’ opinions about childhood nutrition education, an interview script was developed based on the revised list of best practices. Cognitive interviews were conducted with faculty members of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Department of Public Health Nutrition, and Extension agents. Three practices were deleted, and eight practices were combined. To ensure clarity, a second round of cognitive interviews were conducted with the same interviewees. Four practices were added during this process. A total of 23 best practices were included in the subsequent interview and ranking process. Four experts received a list of the final 23 best practices and were asked to rank the top ten best practices. Through an interview, experts were asked to provide greater detail about each of the 23 practices, explaining and describing in their own words. Emerging concepts were documented in narrative form. Experts reviewed this document to ensure that the document represented their thoughts accurately. This study found that there is great variability among the literature and experts concerning best practices for childhood nutrition education interventions. In the future, best practices for specific settings and age groups should be established and disseminated in order to improve the effectiveness of childhood nutrition education interventions.

Attachement 1.pdf (99 kB)
Nutrition Education Intervention Best Practices Identified By Leading Experts

Attachment 2.pdf (268 kB)
Flow Chart of Best Practices

Attachement 3.pdf (125 kB)
Expert Descriptions and Rankings of Best Practices

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