Nutrition Education Programs Bolstered by New, Evidence-Based ‘GENIE’ Tool

Effective nutrition education programs are key to improving the nation’s health, and a new tool from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its Foundation is available to strengthen nutrition education programs. The Guide for Effective Nutrition Interventions and Education (GENIE), a validated online checklist tool funded with support from the ConAgra Foods Foundation, is now available to help nutrition education program planners and program evaluators. Established using a panel of nutrition education experts, GENIE provides evidence-based criteria for designing quality nutrition education programs.

“Nutrition education is a scientifically recognized method for improving dietary knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and health outcomes, but not all nutrition education programs achieve their goals,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Dr. Glenna McCollum. “Nutrition education programs need to utilize proven, effective strategies. GENIE is the gold standard for quality, combining those evidence-based strategies into a simple tool for practitioners, providing guidance and advancing the science of effective nutrition education programming.”
GENIE was developed through an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Nutrition Education Research Fellowship awarded to registered dietitian nutritionist Jenica Abram, and was made possible through an educational grant from the ConAgra Foods Foundation. Abram worked collaboratively with staff from the Academy’s Research, International and Scientific Affairs team and Academy Foundation team on the GENIE validation process. According to Abram, GENIE identifies characteristics associated with strong nutrition education programs. “Through a self-assessment, program planners and evaluators are able to identify areas of their program that are missing or need strengthening,” she said. “Program planners are able to access and improve their program before even submitting a proposal, thus increasing the likelihood of success.”

GENIE identifies nine categories with 35 quality criteria to include in planning effective nutrition education programs. In the validation process, a strong relationship between an expert panel and reviewer scoring groups using the GENIE checklist was established. “Identifying the elements of effective nutrition education programs is crucial to the development of successful interventions,” said registered dietitian Barbara Ivens, former chair of the Academy Foundation and senior director of nutrition at ConAgra Foods. “GENIE translates current research into a simple, practical tool to help nutrition practitioners develop effective programs that lead to desired outcomes.” Nutrition education practitioners can access the GENIE tool at sm.eatright.org/GENIE.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Tip of the Day

Fancy coffee drinks can contain as many as 15 teaspoons of sugar! That tasty hot or cold coffee drink could be adding lots of calories and sugar to your waistline. One large sweetened coffee with whipped cream has about 300 calories and 64 grams (15 tsp) of sugar, and the cream and sugar in a regular coffee can also add up quickly if you drink several cups a day. Many people forget to count coffee and beverage calories as part of their total daily intake, and extra calories consumed each day can contribute to weight gain over the long-term. Therefore, be sure to make healthy beverage choices each day.

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