Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


A study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a food and fitness program implemented by Home Economists of the Cooperative Extension Service. The Fitness Factor program was taught by 49 classroom teachers to 1248 fifth grade students in 20 schools in nine Louisiana parishes. A secondary purpose was to identify and study program management factors that affect success of the program. Three sources of data collection were (a) a youth pretest/posttest instrument measuring food and fitness practices and attitudes, and food consumption, (b) a classroom teacher questionnaire and (c) a Home Economist questionnaire. Ten hypotheses were tested. The following statistical tests were used to analyze data: t-test, analysis of variance, the Scheffe procedure and multiple regression. The program effort affected positive changes between pretest and posttest in youth's food and fitness practices and attitudes, but not food consumption. The positive change in practices was statistically significant. A negative change in 24-hour food consumption was also statistically significant. Actual food consumption of youth may be more difficult to improve due to parental influence and food availability factors. A need to extend educational efforts to parents (food providers of children) is thus indicated. There were statistically significant differences among parish groups of youth participants in the study, indicating that some students benefited more from the program than others. Further studies are indicated to elucidate reasons for differences in group response. Thirteen moderator or predictor variables were identified and studied for possible effect on student outcome. These factors related to coverage of lesson concepts, parental involvement, cooperative efforts between Extension and school personnel, teacher training methods and selected characteristics. Significant predictors of student practice change were teacher training methods and confidence level of teachers. Significant predictors of student attitude change were a high level of parental involvement and confidence level of teachers. Findings of the study indicate that the Fitness Factor program can be successfully implemented in a school setting with the expectation that student behavior will change. Project implications for future program operations were offered based on findings from the study.