Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food and Nutrition

First Advisor

Smith, Sylvia


AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF EMILY ROMANOWSKI, for the Master's of Science degree in FOOD AND NUTRITION, presented on NOVEMBER 25, 2013, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: THE IMPACT OF TASTE TEST INTERVENTIONS ON THE REDUCTION OF VEGETABLE PLATE WASTE IN A RURAL MIDDLE SCHOOL SETTING MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Sylvia Smith BACKGROUND: Childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States and throughout the world. Studies have shown that reducing vegetable plate waste and increasing vegetable consumption in children can improve health outcomes. Studies have also suggested strategies to reduce the amount of plate waste that children produce during lunchtime. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether a nutrition education and taste test intervention would reduce plate waste of select vegetables in a middle school setting. DESIGN: The study used an experimental design. The study took place at an elementary school in the rural Midwest during the third and fourth quarters of the 2012-2013 school year. Plate waste measurements were originally taken for four specific vegetable items: zucchini and tomatoes, refried beans, mixed greens and black bean salsa. After the original measurements, students enrolled in a Family Consumer Sciences class during the third quarter participated in an intervention that involved nutrition education and tasting the specific vegetables. During the fourth quarter, plate waste measurements were taken again to determine if the nutrition education with taste tests helped to decrease the amount of plate waste produced by the students. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The independent variable being tested was participation in the taste tests with nutrition education intervention. The dependent variable being studied was the amount of vegetable based plate waste from Carbondale Middle School students. STATISTIAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Independent t-tests were used to determine statistical differences in the amount of plate waste pre- and post-intervention. The survey given after the taste test was assessed using the Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) test to determine if one vegetable item was liked more than another. RESULTS: Results showed that the implemented nutrition intervention was not effective in reducing the amount of plate waste. There was a significant difference, however, in the opinions given by the students regarding the vegetables served (p=<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These findings are important in the implementation of new National School Lunch Program recommendations for vegetables and can provide insight on how to increase the amount of vegetables that students eat during school. This study can add to current research regarding plate waste, vegetable consumption, and strategies to increase healthful foods in children's diets.




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