Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Poster Board Number: 69
Objectives. The aim of the present study was to identify the most cost-effective school-based public health intervention improving the knowledge about food labelling and food safety among Italian families and scaling it up to all Italian schools.
Methods. A community intervention trial was performed. It enrolled a sample of Italian schools, which were randomized to three school-based interventions aimed at improving the knowledge about food labelling and food safety. In the first intervention, families were trained by field experts, the second and third interventions involved a cascade mechanism through which families were trained by teachers and school’s health care staff (previously trained by field experts). Assessment of interventions’ effectiveness was performed through a questionnaire administered before and immediately after the intervention, and one month after the intervention (follow-up) to test knowledge retaining.
Results. The study involved 41 school facilities, including 1217 families (one member per family), 163 teachers, and 46 health managers. Looking at the effectiveness of the intervention in improving the knowledge about food labelling, at the follow-up, there was no statistically significant difference in the knowledge about nutritional information between the three groups (94% of participants in each intervention group demonstrated to understand information reported in food labels, and about 65% of subjects in each group reported the correct definition of nutritional information). Similar results were obtained also for the knowledge about food safety. However, participants in all the intervention groups showed a poor retention of the knowledge (p-value < 0.001), except for the participants enrolled in the third intervention, who showed a good retaining of the information about food labels but not about food safety.
Conclusions. The hypothesis underlying the study was that, equally effective, the third intervention would have been the most sustainable (since it involved a lower number of subjects to be trained by field experts, through the cascade mechanisms). Present findings are proving such hypothesis, and difficulties observed are recommending specific attention to the background material and communication methods employed.
Full Professor in Medical Statistics
University of Padova
Padova, Veneto, Italy