Experiential learning interventions and healthy eating outcomes in children: A systematic literature review

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Experiential learning is the process where learners create meaning from direct experience. This systematic review aimed to examine the effects of experiential learning activities on dietary outcomes (knowledge, attitudes, behaviors) in children. Four databases: Education Research Complete, Scopus, Web of Science and PsychINFO were searched from database inception to 2020. Eligible studies included children 0–12 years, assessed effect of experiential learning on outcomes of interest compared to non-experiential learning and were open to any setting. The quality of studies was assessed using the revised Cochrane risk of bias tool by two independent reviewers and effect size was calculated on each outcome. Nineteen studies were conducted in primary school, six in preschool and one in an outside-of-school setting and used nine types of experiential learning strategies. Cooking, taste-testing, games, role-playing, and gardening were effective in improving nutrition outcomes in primary school children. Sensory evaluation, games, creative arts, and storybooks were effective for preschool children. Multiple strategies involving parents, and short/intense strategies are useful for intervention success. Experiential learning is a useful strategy to improve children’s knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors towards healthy eating. Fewer studies in pre-school and outside of school settings and high risk of bias may limit the generalizability and strength of the findings.

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