Poster Topical Area: Nutrition Education and Behavioral Sciences

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 220

P18-052 - Hands-on approach for nutrition education in elementary school children

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Objective: One in five school-aged children in the US has obesity. Continued efforts to make healthy food choices available to children and promote healthy eating behavior have not reversed this trend. Effective nutrition education can promote fruit and vegetable consumption, decrease children’s BMI and weight gain and improve academic outcomes. The goal is to educate children about basic nutrition and health using simple, innovative, hands-on techniques and empower them to make healthy food choices independently.

Methods: A hands-on activity focused on educating children on dietary carotenoids found dark green leafy vegetables and yellow/orange/red fruits and vegetables was developed. The activity was a paper chromatography of spinach using materials that are easily available in the market such as chromatography paper, pharmacy-grade ethyl alcohol, baby spinach leaves, coins, skewers and beakers. Children performed chromatography and observed the appearance of yellow and orange colored bands (carotenoids) on the paper within about 20 min. Children were then shown slides/pictures to make the connection of the role of these yellow/orange pigments in the body.

Results: This hands-on activity was shared with children and families at multiple ‘Meet the Scientists’ events at The Discovery Museums and at AAAS 2017 meeting Family Science Days. This simple chromatography protocol revealed hidden carotenoids in spinach and educated children and families about dietary carotenoids, their role as vitamin A precursors in the body and as macular pigment in the eye.

Conclusions: Hands-on nutrition based activities such as this spinach chromatography can successfully engage children and families of all ages. There is a need to develop programs in school or after school that focus on nutrition education. This innovative approach has great potential to impact food choices, especially fruit and vegetable consumption, in school-aged children.



Funding Source: N/A

AAAS 2017 Family Science Days

Cambridge Science Festival 2017

Rohini Vishwanathan


The Discovery Museums, Acton, MA
Andover, Massachusetts