Program Evaluation: Third Grade Students Learn About Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Shaping Up My Choices

Third Grade Students Learn About Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Full Evaluation Results

Evaluation Summary

The Shaping Up My Choices nutrition program for third graders consists of 10 nutrition lessons filled with interactive activities, simulations, and reflections delivered by classroom teachers. The program is aligned with California’s Common Core Content Standards and the US Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines for Americans and teaches students about healthy eating and physical activity choices. It also includes family activities allowing the classroom lessons to extend to families as well. An evaluation of our program has been published in the peer-reviewed journal of Public Health Nutrition.

Lessons Cover
  • The five food groups
  • Main nutrients in foods, and their roles in the body
  • How to read food labels
  • Choosing appropriate serving sizes
  • Choosing beverages low in added sugars
  • Being physically active for 60 minutes each day
Program Materials
  • Teacher’s guide and online resources, such as SmartBoard activities
  • Student workbook
  • Family homework activities
  • Online training video for teachers

Key findings from research evaluating the program
  • The program increased knowledge of the five food groups, main nutrients in foods, and for identifying breakfast and snack foods from the five food groups instead of foods high in empty calories. 
  • The program improved children’s beliefs towards nutrition, and increased their confidence (self-efficacy) to eat healthy
  • The program  reduced children’s  consumption of foods high in empty calories, such as cookies, candy, and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • The program increased children’s consumption of  foods belonging to the five food groups, indicated by an increase in the intake of milk, vegetables, fruit, and 100% fruit juice 
  • Almost 80% of teachers reported that they planned to re-order the materials the following school year

  • Conclusions 

    Shaping Up My Choices nutrition program for third graders was effective, in that it increased children’s nutrition knowledge, improved their beliefs towards nutrition, and increased their intake of foods from the five food groups, while simultaneously decreasing intake of foods filled with empty calories. Additionally, teachers indicated that the program was relatively easy to implement, and did not interfere with other important classroom activities. 

    About our studies

    Shaping Up My Choices was developed, tested, and refined in the 2009-2010 school year, and an evaluation of the program was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California and Harder & Company Community Research, Inc during the 2010-2011 school year. Nearly 200,000 3rd grade students attending public elementary schools in California received the program that year. Fifty classrooms in California were randomly selected into either an Intervention or Control group in order to test whether the nutrition education lessons improved children’s nutrition knowledge, beliefs towards nutrition, and their healthy and unhealthy food consumption. Students were measured prior to participating in the program, after participating, and again three months later to test changes in important variables. 
    Read the full report.

    View Shaping Up My Choices program materials, including an online training video.

    Full Evaluation Results

    Nutrition programs are free to California teachers and available for a nominal cost for teachers from other states.

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    Teacher Comments

    Teacher Comments on Shaping Up My Choices

    It really got the students thinking about what they were eating at snack time. It was hands-on and practical. Kids were talking to each other about good nutrition.
    I liked that it was a good pace for all lessons and I liked the different terminology and vocabulary that was used. It exposed children to things they have heard but didn’t know what they meant.
    Loved how pictures were real food and having the families involved. I got a lot [of] comments at parent conferences of what they learned at home.
    I liked the family homework; was a double benefit because it reinforced in students mind[s] and the parents learned something new.
    It’s all there for you. I liked the Teacher Guide and the Student Workbooks- everything was available and goes to the standards and [the Teacher Guide has] all the steps of the lessons.