The effect of nutrition education on calcium intakes of adolescents
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Inadequate calcium intakes among adolescents (especially females) have been well documented. The development of educational programs has been recommended in an effort to increase nutrition knowledge and ultimately elicit changes (improvements) in eating behavior. The purpose of this study was to determine if an educational program about the role of calcium in bone health had any effect on the eating behavior (specifically, choosing foods high in calcium more often) of adolescents. Sixty-six male and female junior high school students participated in the study. Each student was asked to complete a 3-day food record and 24-hour food recall before, immediately after, and one month after the educational program (seven class sessions given over a month's duration) was presented. The 3-day food records and 24-hour food recalls were arranged so as not to overlap. Thirty-seven students completed all of the food records and food recalls. The recorded intakes were analyzed for calcium, kilocalories, protein, phosphorus, caffeine, sodium, and fat. There were no significant differences in the calcium intakes from the 3- day food records and 24-hour food recalls. Likewise, there were no significant differences in the calcium intakes from the 3-day food records before, immediately after, and one month after the educational program. The nutrient that had the highest correlation with calcium before, immediately after, and one month after the educational program was phosphorus (r=0.913, 0.753, 0.950, respectively). The calcium intake of the subjects met at least 75 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium on the three occasions it was analyzed. Despite a fairly comprehensive educational program, no change in eating behavior (specifically, calcium intake) was evident. It is apparent that one must acknowledge other factors, situational or motivational, that may have greater influence than nutrition knowledge on eating behavior.