LSU AgCenter pilots family nutrition program

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Murphy, Ellen P., Agan, Cathy B., Crawford, Terri L.  |  7/24/2009 11:22:42 PM

News Release Distributed 07/24/09

Nearly 400 youngsters and parents have participated in a northeast Louisiana family nutrition pilot program that addresses childhood obesity, portion control and physical inactivity, according to the LSU AgCenter.

As part of its participation in a nutrition coalition in northeast Louisiana, the LSU AgCenter has put together kits that organizations and schools can use to conduct family nutrition events. The program came out of a nutrition summit attended by 46 agencies in northeast Louisiana in late 2007, said Terri Crawford, LSU AgCenter agent.

The LSU AgCenter’s family nutrition program includes six stations – including start your day the right way, the low down on snacks, right-size your portions, re-think your drink and let’s get physical – where participants spend 10 minutes learning about various aspects of nutrition and health,.

The lessons include visual tips such as correct food portions, displays of how much sugar is in soft drinks and examples of games that can be played indoors. Hands-on activities include such things as mashing cereal to find the iron with a magnifying glass and magnet.

With the assistance of 56 teachers and other volunteers, the nutrition events have been held at three schools, a Head Start center and a church in northeast Louisiana.

Crawford said 85 percent of participants indicated they would attend another event. Follow-up evaluations indicate parents are asking their schools about wellness policies, eating more fruits and vegetables, consuming less sugar-sweetened beverages and reading food labels, she said.

“Fifty percent are walking more, 75 percent are spending more time being outdoors, and 100 percent indicate they are participating in more moderate or vigorous sporting activities,” Crawford said.

Crawford said she has received two out-of-state requests for the project curriculum.

The nutrition coalition has started a Facebook page, LSU AgCenter agent Cathy Agan reported at the group’s July 22 meeting. The page includes newsletters, pictures of events and links to member organizations.

Dr. Ellen Murphy, associate director of the LSU AgCenter School of Human Ecology, said the page could be used for science fair projects, exercise videos and healthy recipes.

“We are still looking for partner organizations to host a family nutrition night,” Crawford said. She can be reached at 318-435-2903, or tcrawford@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Mary Ann Van Osdell

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