Spice MyPlate: Nutrition Education Focusing Upon Spices and Herbs Improved Diet Quality and Attitudes Among Urban High School Students

Am J Health Promot. 2016 May;30(5):346-56. doi: 10.1177/0890117116646333.


Purpose: To determine whether an experiential nutrition education intervention focusing on spices and herbs ("Spice MyPlate") is feasible and improves diet quality and healthy eating attitudes among an urban and predominantly African-American sample of adolescents more than standard nutrition education alone.

Design: A nonrandomized controlled trial compared standard nutrition education in U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPlate guidelines (control group) with standard nutrition education plus adjuvant Spice MyPlate curriculum (intervention group). Data were collected at baseline and after 3, 6, and 10 weeks.

Setting: Study setting was two public high schools in Baltimore, Maryland.

Subjects: A total of 110 students in grades 9 to 12 participated.

Intervention: The 6-week school-based intervention conducted during health class focused on cooking using spices and herbs to eat healthier diets according to MyPlate.

Measures: Dietary intake reported on 3-day food records and healthy eating attitudes questionnaires was analyzed.

Analysis: Differences in diet quality and healthy eating attitudes between study groups were estimated by t-tests, Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests, and covariate-adjusted regression models.

Results: Spice MyPlate was feasible and there were modest but significant improvements (p ≤ .05) in the Spice MyPlate group compared with control in whole grains (31.2 g/wk) and protein foods (13.2 ounces per week) intake, and attitudes toward eating vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.

Conclusions: Although randomized trials are needed, experiential nutrition education focusing on spices and herbs may help urban and predominantly African-American adolescent populations eat healthier diets.

Keywords: adolescents; diet quality; low-income population; nutrition education; prevention research; spices and herbs; usda myplate.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cooking / methods
  • Diet / psychology*
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • School Health Services*
  • Spices*
  • Students / psychology*