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Child Obes. 2012 Aug;8(4):357-63. doi: 10.1089/chi.2012.0035.

Social cognitive theory as a framework for considering Farm to School programming.

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Center for Rural Studies at University of Vermont, 146 University Place, 206 Morrill Hall, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.



Farm to School (FTS) programs are designed, in part, to improve childhood health and nutrition and may be implemented as a strategy to prevent childhood obesity. FTS programs have largely emerged out of grassroots efforts, and theory has not explicitly guided program development or implementation. This research considers the effectiveness of social cognitive theory (SCT) as a framework for FTS programming.


In 2010, a survey was administered to 632 elementary schoolchildren in Vermont. Six indices were developed from 46 variables that measured personal characteristics and experiences with regard to fruits and vegetables, as described in the SCT.


These indices were the basis for cluster analysis, which identified three distinct clusters. Bivariate analysis showed significant differences among the clusters in the children’s likelihood of meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The significant differences observed among the clusters suggest that SCT is an appropriate framework within which FTS interventions may be considered.


The findings show that there are distinct food-related attitudes and behaviors that differ widely by the SCT informed clusters and that can be used to inform FTS programs.

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