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Eating Smart • Being Active is a direct education healthy eating, active living intervention designed for paraprofessional nutrition peer educators to use when teaching low-income families to learn healthy lifestyle choices. The curriculum consists of nine core lessons, designed to be taught in order, and three optional infant and maternal lessons designed to be taught to pregnant women and new parents. The teaching techniques in the lesson plans of Eating Smart • Being Active are based on social cognitive theory and include adult learning principles, dialogue-based learning and learner-centered education. 

Intervention Target Behavior: Pregnant/Breastfeeding, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Reducing Screen Time

SNAP-Ed Strategies:  Direct Education

Intervention Reach and Adoption

Eating Smart • Being Active targets adults in community settings.

Settings: Community-wide, Faith-based centers, Schools 

Age/Population Groups: Adults, Parents/Caregivers 

Race: All

Ethnicity: All

Intervention Components

Eating Smart • Being Active includes nine core lessons and three optional maternal and infant lessons that teach the main messages of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition and

Nine core lessons: 

  • Welcome to Eating Smart Being Active 
  • Get Moving! 
  • Plan, Shop, $ave 
  • Fruits & Veggies: Half Your Plate 
  • Make Half Your Grains Whole 
  • Vary Your Protein Routine
  • Build Strong Bones 
  • Small Changes Matter
  • Celebrate! Eat Smart & Be Active 

Three optional maternal and infant lessons: 

  • Eating Smart and Being Active During Pregnancy
  • How Will I Feed My Baby?
  • Feeding Your Baby Solid Foods 

Each lesson contains physical activity, participants actively involved in food preparation, and tips for food safety, saving money at the grocery store, and parenting related to the topic of the lesson. 

Intervention Materials

Although the Eating Smart • Being Active curriculum is based on nutrition and physical activity information, it is not a detailed nutrition knowledge class.  Rather, the emphasis is on skills needed to make healthy choices.  The lessons in Eating Smart • Being Active are activity-based to ensure that participants have opportunities to practice new skills based on learning theories which have proven successful with adult learners. Materials include the following: an Educator Guide and Lessons plans, Visuals, Worksheets, Handouts, Lesson enhancement items designed to help participants practice the skills they learn in the lessons, Participant folders, Aprons, and Graduation certificates. Additional information on the materials can be found at

Evidence Summary

Several evaluation studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of Eating Smart ● Being Active.   Specifically, curriculum developers utilized experts in adult education, nutrition, food safety, food resource management, physical activity and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and SNAP-Ed from multiple states to review the curriculum during its development. These content experts assessed the curriculum and confirmed it adhered to and effectively applied the tenets and principles of Social Cognitive Theory and Adult Learning and the content was based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Eating Smart • Being Active has since been updated to reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025.

In a separate research project, researchers compared behavior change outcomes from Eating Smart • Being Active with behavior change outcomes of prior EFNEP curricula in five states.  Eating Smart • Being Active generally produced better outcomes than curricula used previously.  In addition, when comparing pre and post test scores from participants taught Eating Smart • Being Active, participants reported significant, positive behavior change in food resource management, nutrition, food safety, and physical activity.  Researchers also found that participants who received Eating Smart • Being Active increased their fruit and vegetable intakes. This research is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior and won the Best Article Award for 2016.  Similar results were seen in an Iowa study of a draft version of Eating Smart • Being Active.

Lastly, two qualitative evaluations of the curriculum were conducted using focus groups and interviews; investigators are currently preparing these results for publication.  The first study focused on the physical activity aspects of Eating Smart • Being Active; researchers found that the participants, peer educators and state level coordinators from four states generally liked the physical activity components of the lessons and that participants make positive behavior changes as a result of the physical activity content of Eating Smart • Being Active. The second study looked at the satisfaction of ESBA among paraprofessionals and state level coordinators from four states.  Generally both groups like the curriculum, found the curriculum easy to use, found that their participants like the curriculum and think that the curriculum content makes a difference in their participants' lives.

Additional information on the evidence-base of Eating Smart • Being Active and specific evaluation studies can be found at:

  • Eating Smart • Being Active was piloted by four states (California, Colorado, Iowa, and South Carolina) for six months.  Results from the pilot and formative evaluation (described above) drove the editing process leading to the original version of Eating Smart • Being Active.  The curriculum was released in 2008, revised in 2010, 2017 and again in 2023 to comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. The 2023 version includes updated food package labels with the new Nutrition Facts Label and enhanced tools to aid peer educators in planning and packing for lessons and teaching participants food preparation skills. Eating Smart • Being Active is used by EFNEP and/or SNAP-Ed programs in more than 40 states and US territories. Programs report increased behavior change in their programs as a result of implementing Eating Smart • Being Active.  Specifically in Colorado in FY22, after completing Eating Smart • Being Active:

    • 89% of participants showed improvement in nutrition practices
    • 89% of participants showed improvement in food resource management
    • 78% of participants showed improvement in food safety
    • 78% of participants showed improvement in physical activity
    • 57% of participants showed improvement in vegetable consumption
    • 71% of participants showed improvement in solid fat and added sugar consumption

Evidence Base: Research-tested

Evaluation Indicators

Based on the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, the following outcome indicators can be used to evaluate intervention progress and success.

 Readiness and Capacity - Short Term (ST)Changes - Medium Term (MT)Effectiveness and Maintenance - Long Term (LT)Population Results (R)
IndividualST1, ST2, ST3, ST4MT1, MT2, MT3, MT4LT1, LT2, LT3, LT4 
Environmental Settings   
Sectors of Influence   
Evaluation Materials

The EFNEP Adult Questionnaire and 24-hour dietary recalls are used by programs to evaluate the impact of Eating Smart • Being Active pre/post intervention. These forms are available on the Eating Smart • Being Active website.

Additional Information

Website: The Eating Smart • Being Active website ( includes an overview of the curriculum, materials for purchase, and a description of the evidence-base of the curriculum.

Contact Person(s):

Brigid McDonnel

EFNEP Supervisor

Colorado State University 

Phone: 720-255-7358


Susan Baker

EFNEP Coordinator

Colorado State University

Phone: 970-491-5798



*Updated as of October 25, 2023

Resource Type
Age/Population Group
Intervention Outcome Levels
SNAP-Ed Strategies
Evidence Base