CSU team co-authors nutrition education journal’s top article of 2015

Two CSU faculty and a research associate co-authored the best nutrition education article of 2015, according to a top journal in the field.

Professors Susan Baker and Garry Auld and research associate Kathryn McGirr of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition won the 2015 Best Article Award from the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

The article reported on an evaluation of Eating Smart • Being Active, a curriculum that has been adopted by 40 states and is the most widely used in the field. Baker led the team that developed ESBA.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/lh2ddmajjdx03fa/000_3873a.jpg?oref=e&The award, selected each year by the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior’s Journal Committee, comes with a $1,000 prize that will be split among the six co-authors. The Best Article Award was presented at the annual SNEB conference held July 30-Aug. 2 in San Diego, where Baker delivered a presentation on the assessment of Eating Smart • Being Active. She, Auld and their co-authors found that the ESBA curriculum is effective at creating positive nutrition-related behavior change.

They based their findings on surveys administered to participants at the beginning and end of the eight-lesson program. Baker and Auld compared the improvement seen in participants who were taught using ESBA to the results seen when curricula other than ESBA were used previously by Colorado and four other states.

“Usually the change you see in that post-test is maintained six months after the program ends,” Auld said of ESBA’s ongoing effectiveness.

Demonstrating effectiveness

Baker said it’s important to have scientific evidence showing that the nutrition education program really works.

“It comes with great responsibility when that many states are using it, so you want to make sure you can demonstrate that it’s effective,” she said. “In nutrition education, you have to answer the ‘so what’ question.”

Among the other co-authors of the article was Lisa Conway, a CSU alumna who did her master’s thesis on the effectiveness of ESBA and now works for the Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia.

“It’s meaningful to get the award from this group of our peers,” Baker said. “I couldn’t go to a session without being congratulated by someone. It’s a prestigious award, we were honored to get it.”

Auld agreed.

“It’s especially nice because this is our field, and a lot of the authors and the journal editor are our colleagues,” he said. “It’s a nice feather in our cap to be recognized by our peers.”

In addition to be honored for the article of the year, Baker and Auld received recognition for the number of their articles the journal has published over the past decade. They were among only eight people named “Platinum Authors,” the highest such recognition given by the society, awarded to those who had 10 or more papers published during that timeframe.

It’s the second year in a row that Auld has received that designation; Baker got “Gold Author” status last year for authoring eight to 10 publications. Their colleague Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, an associate professor in the department, was named a “Silver Author,” an honor given to those who had six to seven articles published by the journal over the 10-year span.