Let’s Eat For the Health of It Impacts 2015 by Diane Uzzle, Area Nutrition Agent

Carol Lynch  |  10/14/2016 3:05:50 PM

Let’s Eat For the Health of It

Submitted by: Diane Uzzle, Area Nutrition Agent


The Louisiana State Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Profile from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention share the latest following information.
• People younger than 18 years of age made up 24.1% of the total population in 2013.
• 16.4% of adolescents were overweight.
• 13.5% of adolescents were obese.
• 33.7% of adolescents watched television 3 or more hours per day on an average school day.
Obesity rates continue to rise and Louisiana ranks as the most obese state in the nation. Teaching youth to learn the importance of eating healthy and taking care of their bodies should help them be less likely to experience the consequences associated with obesity later in life. For this to happen, I taught “Let’s Eat for the Health of It/Youth” curriculum to fifth graders in Castor, Gibsland-Coleman, Ringgold, and Saline through the Bienville Parish School Board.
The goals are to balance calories with physical activity to help manage weight; consume more of certain foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, eggs and nuts; and consume fewer foods that are high in salt, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains. Students are taught to think before they eat about what they put on their plate or in their cup or bowl. Each lesson is interactive and includes an activity, as well as a food demonstration and tasting of healthy foods. Each parent received a folder at the beginning of the series with a letter and the “10 Tips Nutrition Education Series” so they can reinforce what we are teaching at school. Students also enjoyed having these recipes in the parent folders so they can prepare the healthy recipes at home again later. One parent reported to me they always had to go to the grocery store after a lesson because her son had a grocery list of items to make the healthy recipe I had demonstrated in class that day.
A series of eight lessons were taught in two schools to every fifth grader. In two other schools, the lessons were taught through the 21st Century Community Learning Center in after school enrichment programs. A total of thirty two lessons were taught to a total of 70 students. Lesson plans, including the Louisiana Content Standards Benchmarks, were closely followed. Pre and post assessments were utilized to measure the impact of the lessons. Significant positive results are listed below with the percentage of increase in attitude/behavior/knowledge change reported from the pre assessment to the post assessment. A 5% increase is considered average, according to a local school board specialist.
• I try to limit the amount of sodium, or salt, I eat (9%).
• I try to limit the amount of fat I eat (6%).
• I try to limit the amount of sugar I eat (8%).
• I am starting to think about being more physically active (5%).
• I am ready to use my knowledge and skills to make permanent changes in my food choices (18%).
• Knowledge gained on correct daily servings of vegetables consumed for boys and girls (16%).
• Knowledge gained on correct daily servings of fruits consumed for boys and girls (23%).
• Knowledge gained on correct daily servings of milk or soy beverages, yogurt, and/or cheese consumed for boys and girls (26%).
This program has been successfully taught for two consecutive years. The prior year was implemented to third graders in five schools in Bienville Parish. Both years the program proved to make a significant impact with youth learning about the importance of eating healthy and taking care of their bodies. This program should help young people be less likely to experience the consequences associated with obesity later in life.
Increasing, within a limited budget, the likelihood that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will make healthful food choices consistent with the most recent dietary advice reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and USDA MyPlate is the goal.

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