Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Lisa Franzen-Castle

Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Lisa Franzen-Castle. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2018.

Copyright (c) 2018 Kallie R. Heath


Many strategies for childhood obesity prevention have included experiential cooking programs involving parents in various ways. However, evidence is lacking on parent involvement and outcomes. The WeCook: Fun with Food and Fitness (WeCook) program was a twelve-week, after-school program with a treatment-only design. The program targeted 4th and 5th grade youth at two Title I elementary schools while also engaging families in a comprehensive, multifaceted approach. Pre- and post-surveys were administered to youth and their parent/caregiver. Sixty matched youth and adult participant surveys were included in the analysis.

The primary objective was to assess whether participation in a youth cooking intervention program (WeCook) resulted in improvements of adult perceptions of youth nutrition and activity knowledge and behaviors and family-related outcomes. A second objective was to examine similar youth and adult responses for significant differences from pre- to post-assessment. A third objective was to explore associations between adult and corresponding youth post-survey responses.

Adult’s perceptions of youth’s ability to choose a low-fat snack increased and youth’s time spent watching TV decreased significantly from pre- to post-assessment. Examining adult responses by income, food assistance use, and household size showed significant differences with lower income adults reporting increased youth sedentary habits, adults using food assistance reporting decreased family breakfast frequency, and adults with smaller household sizes reporting decreased youth activity before school. Youth reported increases in their nutrition and physical activity knowledge, ability to choose healthy snacks, and consumption of sweets from pre- to post-assessment. Adult and youth responses at post-assessment were positively correlated in the areas of healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, such as the perceived ability of youth to eat fruit and healthy snacks, choose water instead of sweetened beverages, and be active after school. Further research is needed on adult and family outcomes from youth cooking programs to understand the adult and youth health relationship and encourage obesity prevention programs to increase their focus on the family component and associated assessments.

Advisor: Lisa Franzen-Castle