Family importance cannot be overestimated
The latest data from healthcare practitioners and scientists show that families play a key role in the prevention of childhood obesity, making it all the more important that parents and primary caregivers within the family structure fully understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle concept and learn to implement it within the home.
As part of our goal to implement a healthy lifestyle concept, we created seven sessions offered in English and Spanish designed to educate parents about nutrition and parenting. These sessions are interactive — part lecture, part workshop — making each session unique to the families it serves. A booster session three to five months later reinforces this information while providing an opportunity for feedback about the program.
Among the topics and information discussed in our educational sessions:
- How to create a healthy eating environment
- How to read and understand ingredient statements
- Behavior modification techniques: information and training
- How to read and understand a nutrition facts label: serving size, calories, fats, carbohydrates, proteins, etc.
- How to ignore demanding behavior: information and training
- Sugar and healthy sugar substitutes, including actual in-class taste tests; artificial sweeteners
- Impulse control techniques: information and training
- Sources of healthy protein, including actual in-class taste tests
- Sleep duration and its effects on obesity; sleep guidelines from the National Sleep Foundation
- Cooking with oil: how to choose the right one, based on “oils smoke point” table
In addition, we send parents home with handouts containing further information and practical recommendations to help them achieve success within their families. For an example of the material we present to parents, click here.
One of the most unique parts of our program is our in-person review of community grocery markets, both chains and local stores. After a detailed analysis, we survey community members to determine some of the typical food items required for their traditional meals, and then we suggest healthier alternatives available locally in the same price range. In addition we often introduce our students to healthy and tasty new food choices, all available within their budgets at local markets. Taking this one step further, we created a cooking show airing on local cable to help community members ease the transition to the healthier versions of their favorite dishes.