The effect of a health project on primary six children on their knowledge of hygiene and nutrition
Background: Present statistics show that a percentage of children in Scotland are at risk of becoming overweight and obese. This can cause future risks to their health with increased risks of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes in their later life. Research has shown that by using programmes such as incentives and workshops can have a beneficial effect on children’s weight and overall health. A lack of hygiene knowledge can also have an effect on children’s health. It was hypothesised that by conducting a 3 week health and nutrition programme to 2 primary 6 classes in a school in Edinburgh, can have a beneficial impact on their knowledge of health and nutrition. Methods: Prior to the start of the first workshop, the children were give a questionnaire which had been piloted and was based on what was expected to be previous knowledge that was benchmarked by the school. The 3 week programme consisted of games, lectures and a practical workshop where the children learnt how to prepare vegetables and fruit for a soup and fruit kebabs. finger print samples were taken from each child at 3 stages during the practical workshop on nutrient agar plates. The 3 stages were (i) before handwashing, (ii) after handwashing, (iii) post food preparation. During the last workshop the children were then given the same questionnaire, which had been altered by a few words, to determine whether the workshops had been beneficial on their knowledge of health and nutrition. Results: the mean of the second questionnaire was higher than that of the first and when compared p=0.017. When questions were compared individually, 4 questions showed statically significant changes. The mean total of colonies found on each section increased from before handwashing to post food preparation. This was supported by p=0.05. Discussion: It can be concluded that from the questionnaires the 3 week workshop programme had a beneficial effect on the children’s knowledge about hygiene and nutrition. From the agar plates it ca be seen that contamination from the unprepared food sources was transferred to the hands of the children. Key words: health, food hygiene, personal hygiene, nutrition, bacterial load, cross-contamination.