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Press release

Peer Educators Play Key Role in New Recipe Development and Testing

Philadelphia | November 14, 2023

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior establishes a way for peer educators to evaluate and inform recipes for cooking demonstrations

Cooking and recipe demonstrations encourage healthy eating and adoption of unfamiliar foods by class participants. The research brief(opens in new tab/window) shared in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior(opens in new tab/window), published by Elsevier, demonstrates that valuable input by peer educators can be obtained through a hybrid home-use testing method.

The process of recipe development involves sensory evaluation about the appearance, aroma, taste, texture, and flavor of the food. Although a controlled laboratory setting is the gold standard for evaluation because of consistent preparation and presentation of food, bringing peer educators to a central location results in time and financial constraints.

Corresponding authorGinnefer O. Cox, PhD, RD, Department of Nutritional Sciences, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Georgia, explained, “Peer educators are key stakeholders in the recipe development process because of their close relationship with the community and their hands-on involvement with recipe demonstrations.”

For this study, 40 peer educators signed up to select from eight recipes to prepare over a four-week period. They were provided detailed recipes, non-perishable ingredients, but shopped for the perishable ingredients. They completed two surveys per recipe, preparing the recipe following the first survey. The presurvey (first survey) asked questions about their perceived acceptance of the recipe title, appearance, flavor, texture, and likelihood of peer educators preparing the recipe at home or as a food demonstration for Food Talk. Food Talk is a direct, evidence-based initiative of the University of Georgia using the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and SNAP-Ed curriculum to help individuals make nutrition-related decisions.

Additional questions from the presurvey included how Food Talk participants may perceive these recipes based on the peer educator’s experience with participants and the likelihood of participants preparing the recipes at home. After preparing the recipe, the postsurvey evaluated similar questions after the peer educator had tasted the finished recipe.

The study showed no significant difference in overall liking or preparation acceptance from the presurvey to postsurvey responses. The presurvey responses provided valuable insights into the perceptions surrounding a recipe before preparing and tasting it; additionally, postsurvey comments solicited specific modifications to adapt ingredients to a specific culture, improve the preparation or cooking time, or make the title more descriptive.

This study allowed peer educators, established as key stakeholders of the nutrition programs they teach, to be involved in recipe development (Credit: Taras Grebinets/

“The use of presurvey and postsurvey questions of acceptance toward unfamiliar recipes offers an underexplored method of evaluating recipes in the community nutrition setting. Our research may indicate that an online process can be used to predict recipe performance without formal testing at a central location,” concluded Dr. Cox.

Notes for editors

The article is “Sensory-Informed Evaluation Method for Use With Peer Educators of Nutrition Education Programs,” by Melanie K. Ng, PhD, RD; Koushik Adhikari, PhD; Elizabeth L. Andress, PhD; Sarah T. Henes, PhD, RD, LD; Jung Sun Lee, PhD, RD; and Ginnefer O. Cox, PhD, RD ( in new tab/window)). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 55, issue 11 (November 2023), published by Elsevier.

The article is openly available at in new tab/window).

Full text of the article is also available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732 238 3628 or [email protected](opens in new tab/window) to obtain a copy. To schedule an interview with the author(s), please contact Ginnefer O. Cox, PhD, RD, at [email protected](opens in new tab/window).

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Ginnefer O. Cox, PhD, RD, and other information for journalists are available at in new tab/window). Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media with permission from Eileen Leahy.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB)

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society's efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public.

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications. in new tab/window)

About Elsevier

As a global leader in information and analytics, Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. We do this by facilitating insights and critical decision-making for customers across the global research and health ecosystems. In everything we publish, we uphold the highest standards of quality and integrity. We bring that same rigor to our information analytics solutions for researchers, academic leaders, funders, R&D-intensive corporations, doctors, and nurses.

Elsevier employs 9,000 people worldwide, including over 2,500 technologists. We have supported the work of our research and health partners for more than 140 years. Growing from our roots in publishing, we offer knowledge and valuable analytics that help our users make breakthroughs and drive societal progress. Digital solutions such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey and Sherpath support strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, medical education, and nursing education. Researchers and healthcare professionals rely on over 2,800 journals, including The Lancet(opens in new tab/window) and Cell(opens in new tab/window); 46,000+ eBook titles; and iconic reference works, such as Gray's Anatomy. With the Elsevier Foundation(opens in new tab/window) and our external Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board, we work in partnership with diverse stakeholders to advance inclusion and diversity in science, research and healthcare in developing countries and around the world. 

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Eileen Leahy


+1 732 238 3628

E-mail Eileen Leahy