The study evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of a pulse based nutrition education interventiontitled a Pulse Discovery Tool Kit’, in young children. The kit was designed to promote healthy eating habits in childcare centers by encouraging incorporation and consumption of pulse-based food products at an early age.
A pre-post 12 week intervention design was developed and used to pilot test the Pulse Discovery Tool Kit in two childcare centers in Saskatoon. One of the centers was French speaking whereas the other one was an English speaking center. Children (2 to 5 years) were recruited and knowledge questions were administered at baseline and at the end of the intervention. The intervention included weekly lesson plans, food service guide, taste testing, menu, and parent’s newsletter. A pulse knowledge score was constructed based on their response to pulse knowledge questions. Changes in knowledge and preference of pulse crops by the children were determined. additionaly, the cooks inthe participatingcenters completed a questionnaire at the end of the intervention.
A total of 36 children (12 in center A and24 in center B)took part in the study. There was a significant improvement in the mean pulse knowledge score’ of the children at post intervention (1.68) compared with their score at baseline study (a score of 1) (p=0.033). The percentage of children that liked green split pea spread was 44% which increased to 56% during repeated taste testing. However, a similar pattern was not observed for red bean spread. In a paired preference taste testing, more children reported liking the green split pea spread compared to red bean spread. Both cooks believe that it is feasible to include the recipes from the Pulse Discovery Tool Kit into their menu. The cooks highlighted the benefits of expanding their repertoire with pulses and the cost effectiveness of pulses.
Preliminary results indicate acceptance and feasibility of the Pulse Discovery Tool Kit. The results of this study will be used to revise, enhance and expand the Pulse Discovery Tool Kit intervention throughout childcare centres in Saskatchewan.