Background: My school is a typical boarding school in Cameroon. In Cameroon, boarding schools are sometimes mixed, sometimes single-sex but they are similar in several ways especially with respect to foods allowed or banned in school, exercise curriculum and other health aspects. Some foodstuffs have been banned with little or no evidence that they are unhealthy. School administration base their judgements on foods or exercise on experience or personal inclinations. Sports is often limited to one hour per week and the lifestyle is sedentary. Available research evidence relevant to youth is not catchy or is boring to young people.
Objectives: Identify evidence for banned or approved foods at boarding schools in Cameroon; assess accessibility of evidence to youths in school.
Methods: We made a list of approved and banned foodstuffs. We worked with a health expert and searched evidence databases including the Cochrane Library, the Campbell Collaboration, 3ie, the Joanna Briggs Library and Google scholar. Using a Microsoft Word form, we collected evidence on each food item identifying evidence of benefits, harms, and safety. We also searched evidence on exercise for youths in boarding school where movement is limited.Due to the difficulty in finding evidence, we developed a questionnaire for young people on approaches of disseminating evidence that was most appropriate for them. We searched for outlets that provided or disseminated evidence with these approaches.
Results: Regular evidence databases were not youth friendly with the database navigation being complicated. Searching the worldwideweb provided some evidence related nutrition, exercise that is useful to young people and presented in a youth friendly manner by James McCormarck. We identified 18 songs with evidence relevant to our context; 4 nutrition slots, 2 exercise slots out of 18, with 7 out of 18 songs being trendy youths songs. Local foods were not covered, but recommendations broadly covered healthy diets.
Conclusions: A trendy, youth-friendly approach should be employed when disseminating evidence relevant to youths using the McCormarck approach. This can be applied to sexual health topics.