Sentient Research Evaluates American Heart Association Program, Kids Cook with Heart
Studies have shown that youth who are involved in preparing their own meals are more likely to eat nutrient-rich foods, including more fruits and vegetables. The American Heart Association developed the Kids Cook with Heart (KCWH) program to teach school-aged children how to prepare healthy meals as a way to embrace a healthier lifestyle. The program sends a professional chef into the classroom for multiple hour-long sessions with students. KCWH also includes a parent engagement component to create family-wide improvements in nutrition and physical activity.
Sentient Research has evaluated this program in Los Angeles since 2013. The evaluation includes a pre survey for students and parents before the program starts and a post survey administered at the end of the program.
For the 2015 program, results among students and parents were very positive. Among students, there were six outcomes which were statistically significant. These include increases from the pre survey to the post survey in the number of times students ate dinner prepared from scratch at home and in student self-efficacy regarding asking parents to buy fruit for snacks. In addition, there were significant decreases from pre to post in the number of times students drank fruit juice, the number of times they drank sweetened beverages like fruit punch, the number of times they ate fast food, and the number of hours watching TV.
Among parents, which had a smaller sample size, there were two significant changes in the expected direction from the pre to the post survey, and three marginally significant changes. The significant changes included an increase in the number of days that the parent exercised or engaged in physical activity with child for at least 30 minutes in past week and an increase in the number of days in past week where their child was physically active for at least 60 minutes. The marginally significant changes included an increase in the number of times their child helped prepare a meal at home in the past week, an increase in the number of times their child ate vegetables, and a decrease in the number of parents who purchased frozen pizzas or TV dinners in the past week.