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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Cultural Appropriateness of Nutrition Education Materials: a Focus Group of African American Adolescents

item Lartey-Rowser, Marjuya - UNIV SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

Submitted to: University of Southern Mississippi Thesis
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2001
Publication Date: August 1, 2001

Interpretive Summary: The purpose of this study was to identify how limited income African American pre-teens from ages 10-13 preferred to learn about nutrition. The children were grouped by age and gender and asked to discuss six topics. Moderators tape recorded the discussion, noted nonverbal communications, and selected major points. Previous methods of nutrition education included formal lectures by teachers, informal teaching by family, and use of songs and plays. Preferences for learning differed between boys and girls. Boys preferred tasting parties and use of cartoon characters such as Rug Rats over traditional methods labeled as "boring". Girls were more interested in nutrition and preferred cooking experiences. Posters and graphic materials need to include people that they can identify with, "like somebody that's had experiences that we went through", not those who "got money", are "thin" or "anorexic". Effective nutrition education needs active learning approaches, use of family members, and possibly different methods for boys and girls.

Technical Abstract: For nutrition education to be effective, it should be delivered by methods and strategies preferred by the target audience. This study used a qualitative research approach to identify the method preferences of limited income African American youth as part of an intervention plan and process. We used the methods of Morgan and Kreuger to conduct six focus groups with a total of 43 youth, 21 male and 22 female, aged 10 - 13. Children were grouped by age and gender. Trained moderators conducted the sessions using a prepared question schedule including six topics. Focus group sessions were audio taped and a trained assistant moderator took written notes. Data analysis steps included the following: a) debriefing of moderator and assistant moderator immediately following each session noting nonverbal communication and principle themes; b) transcription of audiotapes; c) content analysis of transcripts with question-by-question review and coding by two independent coders. The method or strategies reported most frequently as having been used to teach nutrition to the youth in the past were formal presentation by teachers, informal education by parents and relatives, and use of the arts (plays, songs). Computer games were a preferred nutrition education method for both boys and girls. Boys described tasting parties and use of cartoon characters such as Rug Rats as preferred nutrition education approaches and girls liked cooking experiences. Videos and traditional methods including use of blackboard, overhead projector, printed materials, and writing exercises were described as unappealing or "boring". One boy suggested that a traditional lecture style approach would appeal to "people that are smart"[not] people like us". The youth indicated that posters and graphic materials should include people that they can identify with, "like somebody that's had experiences that we went through", not those who "got money" or are "thin" or "anorexic". Girls expressed more interest in an enthusiasm for nutrition education than boys. Effective nutrition education for this audience of preteens should incorporate active learning approaches, use of family member, and possibly different methods for boys and girls.

Last Modified: 5/5/2015
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