A recent study hypothesized that the use of music in a nutrition education program will increase knowledge among children. In the study, seventh and eighth grade children were exposed to a music CD informing them about proper nutrition, specifically the difference between dietary fat. The children were given a lecture on nutrition and given a brochure reiterating the information presented to them on the music CD.
The music CD was obtained from Positive Records, a social marketing/communications firm specializing in health literacy music-based messaging systems. The CD was entitled “Hip Hop Wellness” and its primary objective was to raise awareness regarding obesity and chronic diseases among African Americans and Latinos. Nine tracks are on the music CD including: “I Can Eat a Rainbow,” a song about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables; “Let’s Get it Started,” speaking about the importance of exercise; “Three Times a Day,” emphasizing the need to drink milk or dairy at least 3 times a day.
The song that was chosen for this study was “Stay Low.” This song, “Stay Low” opens with a boy having a discussion with his father about the fat content in his father’s diet: “Dad, you're always eating the big sandwich, the triple cheeseburger, the super hoagie, the foot long cheese dog, with super sized fries. Come on, Daddy, do you know how many grams of fat that is? That's about 300 grams of fat, man.!”
The song also goes on to discuss the different types of dietary fats by repeating, “Polyunsaturated – cool, monounsaturated – good, cut back - trans fat, stay low – on saturated fat.” The food label and food pyramid are then discussed: “The food label is mandated law. So learn it, and then use it. You don’t need more than 65 grams of fat per day. So add them up on a preserving basis. What’s your fat total today? Know your pyramid. Try to get the proper amount of nutrients from the food you consume by eating more fruits, grains and vegetables. And keeping your protein lean and your dairy low fat. And don’t forget to drink water, rest and exercise. Stay low man, that’s where it’s at.” The song continues to reiterate the importance of fruits and vegetables in the diet, exercise, and a reminder to drink plenty of water.
The track “Stay Low” was used in this study because researchers decided that this song was the most appealing to 7th and 8th graders. Some of the other songs on the CD appeared to be aimed towards children at lower grade levels. “Stay Low” had a rhythm and beat that could be appealing toward all ages.
A brochure was developed to coincide with the song, “Stay Low.” The brochure corresponds with the song in that it explains four different types of dietary fats; discusses food labels and the Food Guide Pyramid; gives examples of fruit and vegetable servings and number of grams in high fat foods; and goes over the importance of exercise and drinking water.
The brochure is divided into 5 sections. The first section numbers each of the dietary fats, 1) Polyunsaturated, 2) Monounsaturated, 3) Saturated and 4) Trans Fat and lists examples under each section.
The second section tells the reader to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables and goes on to explain what equals 1 cup. For example, 1 cup of fruit equals 5 cut pieces of pineapple and 1 cup of vegetable is 12 baby carrots. The definition of “servings” of fruits and vegetables were provided using the nutritional content guidelines provided by the Student Health Center at California State University, Fullerton.
The third section displays a picture of a nutrition label and tells the reader not to go over 65 grams of fat each day. Listed in this section are high fat foods with their corresponding fat grams, such as French fries (large) – 30 grams and Sub sandwich (12”) – 70 grams. Information on the fast food was retrieved from the websites of each establishment chain, i.e. McDonalds, Subway, etc.
In the fourth section, the food guide pyramid, is pictured instructing the reader to “Know the pyramid”. Instructions for exercise are also given in this section. Guidelines for exercise were retrieved from the American College of Sports Medicine.
On the last page of the brochure, contact information to government agencies is listed including the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC. Contact information at California State University, Fullerton, Department of Health Science is also listed.
The brochure was translated to Spanish in the event that a parent was unable to read English. The brochure was translated by a bilingual health educator and back translated by a community member.
The presentation was conducted in a classroom referred to as the “computer lab.” Each child sat in front of a computer but was instructed not to use the computer at any time. The purpose and explanation of the study was given and assent forms were collected from each participant. It was conveyed that participation was voluntary and students were able to withdrawal from the study at any time.
Students were instructed to complete a pretest assessing their knowledge regarding dietary fat and answer questions indicating demographic information. The children listened to a music CD track entitled “Stay Low,” informing them on the differences between dietary fat. Permission to play the track was received from the writer and producer of the CD, Steven Logwood.
Immediately after the music CD, the children were asked to complete a second questionnaire identical to the pretest. A brochure was distributed to each participant and a lecture was given reiterating the information on the CD and brochure. Students were asked to complete a second post-test. A Spanish brochure was offered to each child to take home in the event any of their parents did not read or speak English.
The analysis revealed a significant increase of correct answers on a nutrition based questionnaire after the exposure to a music CD and brochure among 7th and 8th grade children. Children significantly improved their knowledge regarding dietary fat by participating in this program. These findings were consistent with White and McCormack (2006) indicating the incorporation of music with instruction provided a powerful tool to enhance learning.
As was noted by Forthofer and Bryant (2000), researchers investigated which area of the population would benefit most from the implementation of an intervention program rather than delivering a program to a large area of the population. One of the objectives of the present study was to target 7th and 8th grade children because they would most likely enjoy the music and identify with it. It was determined from previous studies that a favorite past time for children and teens is listening to music (Nippold, Duthie & Larsen, 2005; Steinberg, 1996; Buckton, 1998; McFerran & Hunt, 2008). And, ÄrnÄec, Wilson and Prior (2006) report that soothing background music in the classroom may increase learning capacity.
Another brochure that was reviewed and used as an example for the brochure in the present study was, “Take Charge of Your Health, A Guide for Teenagers! (www.win.niddk.nih.gov)” This is a 15 page booklet that goes into detail about what would consist of a healthy lifestyle for a typical teenager. The booklet starts by giving some statistics regarding overweight children in the United States and the risks that accompany obesity. The next several pages discuss eating a healthy diet. The last few pages discuss exercise and tips for sticking to a healthy regimen are found throughout the brochure. The brochure was developed and distributed by the Weight-control Information Network a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health.
Research for the development of the brochure for the present study revealed that there may not be a brochure available to Hispanic teens intended to raise awareness regarding nutrition. It appears that the brochure developed for the present study is the first aimed at Hispanic teens informing them about dietary fat, nutrition, and exercise.
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