206238 Lights, camera, action for health: The development of a theater-based nutrition and physical activity intervention for at-risk youth

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:30 AM

Caree J. Jackson, PhD, RD, LD , School of Community Health and Policy, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD
Rebecca M. Mullis, PhD, RD, LD , Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Childhood overweight is disproportionately worse for members of minority populations in the United States. Thus, there is an immediate need to develop culturally appropriate nutrition and physical activity interventions. Entertainment is a promising method to reach various audiences. Researchers, therefore, have begun using entertainment education as a method for conveying messages to a range of target populations. There are no known studies that have examined the use of entertainment education to promote both nutrition and physical activity to at-risk youth. In this paper we describe the development of a theater-based intervention for at-risk African American adolescents attending an urban middle school in the southeastern United States.

A Quasi Experimental Pretest/Posttest Design was used to from January 2007-May 2007. Students were assigned to one of three comparison groups including: 1) a Theater-Based Intervention Group, who participated in the Healthy 4 Life Afterschool Program; 2) a Classroom Intervention Group, who completed a standard nutrition and physical education curriculum during health education class, or 3) a Control Group, who participated in the existing health curriculum. All students (N=73) were administered a pretest and post-test. Data collection occurred before and after intervention at ten weeks.

Students in the theater-based intervention group participated in seventy-five minute afterschool sessions, two times per week for a period of ten weeks to learn about healthy eating and physical activity, dramatic writing, acting, hip-hop dance, and rap. Students also completed home-based activities with their parents. The culminating event was a dinner theater presentation of an original show for community members.

T-tests were conducted to compare changes in knowledge, preferences, and behavioral intentions, and household behavior within each group. A one way ANOVA was used to compare changes between the groups. There were significant changes in some health knowledge items (P <.001). There were also significant changes in some behavioral intentions items (P <.012). There were no significant differences in preferences and household behavior. One hundred percent of participants in the theater-based intervention group self reported high satisfaction with the program and positive changes in cutting down on high fat foods and trying to be more physically active. Results suggest that theater has potential as a viable medium for health education for at-risk youth.

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the process of developing a theater-based nutrition and physical activity intervention. 2) Explain key lessons learned during the development of a theater-based nutrition and physical activity intervention

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research presented in this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.