Alabama Extension program encourages healthy eating habits for children, adults

Alabamahas among the highest obesity rates and obesity-related disease rates in the nation. Dietary patterns begin in childhood, making child nutrition education and early intervention critical. Since children are in school during much of the day, schools can create an environment where students learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle practice making decisions about healthy diet and beverage options and participate in physical activity. School also providesan opportunity to reach parents, who act as nutritionalgatekeepers in the home, with education to promote healthy choices and practices.Body Quest was created by the AlabamaCooperative Extension System at Auburn University to help children combat obesity and learn healthy eating habitswhile engaging parents in learning and behavior change alongside their children. SNAP-Ed educators provided Body Quest to 7,112 third graders in 57 Alabama counties, 124 schools and 377 classrooms. All schools were SNAP-Ed eligible with more than 50% of students receiving free-or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program. At the end of Body Quest, students ate vegetables and fruits more times per day and ate a greater variety of vegetables and fruits compared to before Body Questand compared to studentswho didn’t participate in the program. In addition, Body Queststudents drank fewer sugary beverages and more water compared to before the programand compared to non-participants. Body Quest also engaged 5,320 parents with at-home recipe testing activities and text message-based education. At the end of Body Quest, parents reported positive changes in fruit and vegetable consumption, sweetened beverage consumption and food resource management compared to before the programand compared to non-participatingparents.

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