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"Nutrition for Life" Parent and Child Workshops 2018
In 2018, eleven “Nutrition for Life” workshops were held for parents and children aged 9-12 years. The nutrition workshops took place in various parts of the country, including Afula, Karmiel, Kiryat Shemona, Al-Aramsheh, Akko, Kfar Mazra’a and Jerusalem. In all, 138 participants attended the program.
The workshop consisted of four hour and a half long weekly sessions. They included teaching proper nutrition on a limited budget, hands on activities and preparing meals in a group.
Subjects and objectives of the workshop:
- Encouraging the eating of fruits and vegetables –
Objective: Understanding the importance of eating a variety of fresh produce, with each participant tasting a new vegetable/fruit.
- Sweets and snacks –
Objective: Understanding the health risks associated with sugar in sweets and drinks, reducing the consumption of processed snacks, and learning about healthy alternatives.
- Eating breakfast –
Objective: Understanding the importance of having a meal in the morning and the value of drinking water.
- Eating behaviors and family meals –
Objective: Familiarity with different eating behaviors (such as eating standing up, in front of the TV, etc.); how to adopt better eating habits; and understanding the importance of a shared meal. This session also included a Master Chef style of competition in which participants applied the knowledge and information that they learned during the workshop.
In order to gauge the effectiveness of the workshops we distributed questionnaires to nine of the eleven workshops at the beginning and end of the final meeting. The purpose of these questionnaires is to measure the increase in awareness of proper nutrition among participants. A total of 45 out of 100 parents and children answered the questionnaires. The 2 workshops in which the questionnaires were not filled out were those held in the Arab sector, where there was no cooperation in completing the questionnaire and/or difficulties due to illiteracy.
Analysis of the results of the questionnaire
Frequency of Consumption of Sugary Drinks: By the end of the workshop series, there was a decrease in the percentage of consumption of sugary drinks among the group of participants who consume sugary drinks in high frequency, and a corresponding increase in those consuming only small amounts.
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: The graph below shows a significant increase in consumption of fruits and vegetables. Those who did not eat produce at all or very little at the beginning of the workshop, were consuming them more frequently at the end. In fact, by the end, all participants were eating fruits and vegetables to some degree while at the beginning 9% said they were not eating them at all.
Consumption of Sweets and Snacks: The graph shows that at the end of the workshop there was a decrease in the frequency of consumption of sweets. In other words, the percentage of participants who ate sweets less frequently was greater after the workshop.
Regularity of Eating a Family Meal: At the end of the workshop there was a significant increase in participants who are eating dinner as a family at a medium/high frequency.
Eating Breakfast on a Regular Basis: At the end of the workshop there is a significant increase in the number of participants eating breakfast regularly.
Change in Eating Habits: 57% of participants reported that following the workshop they made moderate to substantial changes in their eating habits.
Discussion and Summary
The “Nutrition for Life” Parent and Child Workshop series began as a pilot project in March 2018.
As with every new initiative, various challenges arose during the workshops. These challenges included convincing parents that they themselves should take part in the workshop (not only their children) and parents who brought more than one child or a younger child which caused distractions for other families. Despite this, the participants exhibited serious interest during every session and began implementing the recipes at home. The dietitians who supervised the workshops reported that everyone enjoyed and sent pictures of the children preparing recipes, families eating meals together, and relayed parents’ feedback that their children had become amenable to eating vegetables that they did not consume before the workshop.
An analysis of the results of the questionnaires distributed to participants indicated that since a large percentage of the participants changed their eating habits after completing the workshop, the objectives of the workshop were achieved. Many of them experimented with less popular fruits and vegetables such as kohlrabi, celery and persimmon. After learning about the damage caused by sugar and the importance of eating in the morning, they reduced their consumption of sweets and snacks and began to eat breakfast more often. Furthermore, the participants understood the importance of a family meal and applied it in their homes.
A telephone survey will be conducted about six months after conclusion of the workshops to determine the extent to which participants have continued to apply the dietary changes that they learned.
Due to these positive results, we decided to add this workshop as another “product” that we offer to populations in low socio-economic sectors.
It seems that the content of the workshop addresses the most relevant topics for this population. The children and their parents were attentive, and the preparation of recipes provided hands-on application of the content and incentive to try it at home. As a result of the challenges we experienced, we are now more vigilant in managing parents’ expectations with the workshop coordinators.
This workshop became our nutritional flagship project in 2018, with increasing interest from various organizations with whom we presently work as well as from new organizations. We are continuing to deliver these workshops in 2019, with a target of 25 per year. We plan to publicize this project with other third party organizations dealing with relevant communities, such as elementary school principals in distressed neighborhoods located in the periphery, promoters of urban health and welfare, welfare centers and others.