Parent Diet Tutorial - A Six Week Web-Based Clinical Trial
In 2016, FIHRI sponsored a web-based parent diet tutorial as part of a clinical trial. The objective of the trial was to determine if web-based nutrition education could be used as a tool to help parents facilitate healthy dietary changes. Facebook was used to recruit parents of children with learning disabilities who wanted to learn how food may be used to imrove child behaviors and improve health outcomes. Although several hundred parents wanted to participate in the trial, only 22 met the inclusion criteria of having children between the ages of 34 months and 8 years of age with specific behavioral problems (e.g. ADHD, symptoms of autism). Eleven parents served in the test group and eleven parents served in the control group. An online diet survey was administered to the parents before and after their participation in the six week nutrition tutorial.
Six modules of instruction were offered to accompany a textbook titled, Toxic Western Diet, written by Dr. Renee Dufault. The textbook was science based and connected to the learning objectives in each module of instruction. The textbook played an influential role in creating the interaction between the parents and their environments. For example, during each of the six modules of instruction, the parents were required to survey their kitchen cupboards to identify food products likely to contain harmful food ingredients or toxic substances. The parents were instructed to use the tables in the textbook to guide their surveying activities.
The effectiveness of the tutorial was determined by measuring changes in parent diet that occurred between the pre and post instruction periods. The parents in the test group who completed the tutorial significantly reduced their intake of highly processed foods, increased their intake of whole and/or organic foods, and changed their mind about their ability to influence their child's behavior through diet. By the end of the tutorial, parents believed diet could be a positive tool in changing child behavior.
After the trial, some of the parents provided the following feedback:
- "We changed to an organic Mediterranean type diet."
- "The tutorial changed our family diet by making me change not only what I take out of our diet (like HFCS and processed food) but also what I can add to our diet to improve (reduce) negative behaviors."
- "I learned so much! The tutorial has absolutely changed the way I buy and prepare foods."
- " As a family, we have become more aware of what we eat and the ingredients in our food. We are trying to make more healthy choices, including not choosing flavored milk in school."
- "I have changed my family's diet by serving less of those dangerous food ingredients and in most cases, eliminating them."
- "I have made modest changes along with changing my husband's views, which is big."