The effect of teacher-delivered nutrition education programs on elementary-aged students: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis

Wayne Cotton, Dean Alan Dudley, Louisa Peralta, Thea Werkhoven

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    13 Citations (Scopus)
    107 Downloads (Pure)


    Research shows that schools can make a positive impact on children’s nutritional outcomes. However, it is also reported that schools and teaching staff note many barriers, which may restrict nutritional education programming and delivery. This is concerning, considering the view that teachers are the key agents for promoting health and nutrition within schools. The purpose of the updated systematic review and meta-analysis was to ascertain the impact that nutrition education programs have on elementary-aged students’ energy intake, fruit, vegetable, sugar consumption and nutritional knowledge.

    A systematic literature search was conducted using electronic databases (The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); A + Education; ERIC; PsycINFO; MEDLINE; ProQuest Central, Journals@Ovid and SAGE Health Sciences Full-Text Collection) from 1990 to 31st October 2018.

    This process yielded 34 studies for inclusion in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Of these studies, seven studies had a focus on energy intake, five had a focus on sugar consumption, 21 of the studies looked at fruit and vegetable consumption and 13 studies focused on nutritional knowledge. The results suggest that the teaching of nutrition education in elementary schools by qualified teachers can make an important contribution to the knowledge and dietary habits of children.

    The small and medium effect sizes indicate that prudent, evidence-based decisions need to be made by policy makers and pedagogues as to the teaching strategies employed when delivering nutrition education programs to elementary-aged students.

    The review is reported in accordance to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines (van Sluijs et al., 2007).
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101178
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
    Early online date13 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • nutrition review
    • meta-analysis
    • elementary students


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