Adolescent understanding of DOHaD concepts: a school-based intervention to support knowledge translation and behaviour change
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A life-course approach to reduction of risk of non-communicable diseases (NCD) suggests that early-life interventions may be more effective than lifestyle modifications in middle age. Knowledge translation to develop understanding of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) within the community offers the potential to encourage informed diet and lifestyle choices supporting reduction of NCD risk in current and future generations. Many women do not make sustained dietary change before or during pregnancy, therefore appropriate nutritional behaviours need to be established prior to adulthood. This makes adolescence an appropriate stage for interventions to establish suitable dietary and lifestyle behaviours. Therefore, we engaged adolescents in a school-based educational intervention, and assessed the value of this in development of understanding of DOHaD concepts to support behaviour change that could lead to NCD risk reduction in the next generation. Modules of course work were written for 11-14 year olds and trialled in nine schools. Matched pre- and post-intervention questionnaire responses from 238 students and 99 parents, and post-intervention interviews evaluated the intervention. Understanding of a link between maternal diet during pregnancy and the health of the foetus in adulthood increased from 46% to 76% following intervention. Post-intervention evidence suggests the programme facilitated discussion of diet, lifestyle and DOHaD concepts in most families. The intervention was effective in improving understanding of DOHaD concepts and in some cases led to appropriate behaviour change. However, the sustainability of these changes remains to be determined through on-going evaluation of attitudes and behaviour within this cohort.
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