An effective nutrition and health education program emphasizes the development of essential and functional skills that enable a person to practice and maintain healthy behaviors. As of 2015, experts evaluate the effectiveness of health education programs by looking at a wide range of personal, educational and social trends.
Education should focus on clear health-related goals and corresponding outcomes, as well as emphasize research and theoretical approaches toward influencing behavior. Students are encouraged to explore social factors, health determinants, values, attitudes and skills that influence behavior relating to health. Students are taught to think critically about personal perspectives and new attitudes that support health-protecting behaviors and risk factors.
A sound curriculum provides instructional strategies and learning experiences, as well as opportunities to validate healthy beliefs and behaviors and to assess vulnerability and risk of exposure to unhealthy situations. Students are encouraged to analyze social pressures and influences, such as peer pressure, influence from media and social barriers. Development of essential skills are emphasized, including communication, decision-making, goal-setting and self-management. Effective health education provides credible information and uses interactive, personalized strategies that students can identify with, including group discussion, role-play and problem solving.
Also included in the criteria for an effective curriculum is adequate learning time and the opportunity to reinforce new behaviors and skills. Additionally, a sound education is culturally inclusive, age-appropriate and encourages positive connections with others.