Family Nutrition Night offers way to prevent childhood obesity

Cathy Agan, Van Osdell, Mary Ann, Crawford, Terri L.  |  12/11/2008 3:39:03 AM

News Release Distributed 12/10/08

To help address the problem of obesity and physical inactivity among children, LSU AgCenter extension agents have put together a Family Nutrition Night kit for checkout as part of participation in a nutrition education coalition in northeast Louisiana.

“It’s a way for families to be together, learn about nutrition and have some fun,” said Cathy Agan, LSU AgCenter agent in Ouachita Parish.

Agan and Terri Crawford, LSU AgCenter regional agent at the Scott Research and Extension Center in Winnsboro, designed the kit, which is available free for checkout by any community group, church group or school.

The Family Nutrition Night kit consists of six activities along with an introductory lesson and a timeline of how to organize the event, which lasts less than two hours.

“The purpose is to help families learn that good nutritional and lifestyle habits will help keep their children from becoming obese and help them lose weight, if they are overweight,” Agan said.

The program begins with a presentation on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It is also recommended that a nutritious meal be served as part of the event, Agan said.

These activities are followed by a rotation through six stations where children can spend 10 minutes doing hands-on activities. These include:

– Start Your Day the Right Way, which is about the importance of eating breakfast.

– The Lowdown on Snacks, which includes ideas for nutritious snacks.

– Right Size Your Portions, which is designed to scale down how much is consumed during a meal.

– Rethink Your Drink, which looks at the amount of sugar consumed in soft drinks and the importance of getting enough vitamin C.

– Let’s Get Physical, which is about the importance of keeping active.

A sixth station involves a health professional measuring height, weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and pulse of the children and giving them a health report card, Agan said.

The Family Nutrition Night kit was developed based on recommendations from a Nutrition Connections Summit, which was held in late 2007 and attended by 46 agencies in northeast Louisiana, Crawford said. The agencies formed work groups and outlined ways to use their resources and collaborate.

“If current trends continue through the year 2020, treating the consequences of obesity will consume a large amount of health care expenditures,” Crawford said.

Crawford said four of the 10 leading causes of death in the Lower Mississippi Delta could be prevented or managed through improved nutrition.

The rate of obesity is 31 percent in the Louisiana Delta, compared to the national rate of 17 percent. High blood pressure among adults there is 31 percent, compared to the national rate of 20 percent. Diabetes among adults is 11 percent, compared to the national rate of 6 percent, Crawford said.

To check out the kit or for more information, contact Crawford at (318) 435-2903 or Agan at (318) 323-2251.

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Contacts: Cathy Agan at (318) 323-2251, or cagan@agcenter.lsu.edu

Terri Crawford at (318) 435-2903, or tcrawford@agcenter.lsu.edu

Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell at (318) 741-7430, ext. 1104, or mvanosdell@agcenter.lsu.edu

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