The effect of nutrition education on nutrition knowledge and body composition of Little League cheerleaders

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Michele Keane

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Katharine Curry

Third Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Sheah Rarback


Children -- Nutrition, Girls -- Nutrition

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study was to determine if a short-term nutrition education program could significantly improve the nutrition knowledge (as assessed by the .Nutrition Achievement Test (NAT)) and body composition (as measured by the weight-for-length index (WLI) and body mass index (BMI)) of female cheerleaders aged 7 to 13. Nutrition lessons were presented to the experimental group during a two month treatment period. Using a pre-test, post-test, control group design, and performing two-sample t tests on mean differences (post-test minus pre-test) in BMI, WLI and mean percent correct on the Nutrition Achievement Test (NAT), it was discovered that the experimental group (teams A,C; N=34) did not differ significantly from the control group (teams B,D; N=31) with respect to mean differences (post-test minus pre-test) in WLI (p=0.10), and BMI (p=0.49). However, the experimental and control groups differed significantly with respect to mean difference percent correct NAT scores (p=0.042), with the experimental group improving more than the control. Closer examination revealed the older experimental team (C) improved significantly (p=0.0017), while the younger experimental team (A), did not (p=0.64). Neither of the control groups improved significantly. ANCOVA was performed on the post-test percent correct on the NAT, using the pretest as a covariate, for the 15 experimental and 14 control subjects taking NAT Test 4. ANCOVA revealed that the experimental group’s adjusted post-test mean score was higher than the control's (p<.01). These results suggest that nutrition education may result in significant improvements in the nutrition knowledge of adolescent females enrolled in an extra-curricular cheerleading league and/or program.



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