Narrative-based strategies to promote healthy eating behaviours in childhood: a systematic review


Manuela Pulimeno Prisco Piscitelli Elisabetta De Marco Salvatore Colazzo


Introduction. Obesity is becoming the global epidemic of the twenty-first century. Moreover, the number of obese or over-weight children has increased during the last decades, resulting in negative physical and psychological health consequences during childhood, adolescence and in adults. Following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), a huge variety of obesity prevention and treatment programs have been introduced in the school setting to encourage healthy eating behaviours in childhood. The aim of our systematic review was to explore the use and efficacy of narrative-based strategies in promoting healthy eating behaviours in school-children. Materials and Methods. We have carried out an updated systematic review on the following databases (PubMed, Psychinfo, ERIC and EBSCO) to assess papers published from the year 2000 to January 2018, which addressed the issue of narrative-based interventions in schoolchildren for the adoption of healthy food habits. Results. Our initial search found out 169 and 50 studies on PubMed and Psychinfo databases, respectively; 24 and 12 articles were found on ERIC and EBSCO datasets, respectively. After the application of the prede-fined exclusion criteria, we selected a total of 15 papers from PubMed and 12 articles from Psychinfo. Among these 27 papers, only six articles (two Randomized Controlled Trials and four Cohort studies) met the inclusion criteria and were considered for our systematic review because explicitly presenting nutrition school-based interventions that used narrative pedagogy or storytelling to promote healthy eating behaviours among children. Conclusion. Nutrition education in school setting is a key element in promoting lifelong healthy eating behaviours and should start from the early stages of life. Among all the possible interventions, narrative-based approaches (i.e. storytelling) seem to be at least as effective as other different educational programmes in encouraging the adoption of healthy food habits during childhood, especially when active involvement of the children is ensured.


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