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Head Start children “Go, Glow and Grow” in Riverside

The Issue

California is one of the states with the highest prevalence of obesity among preschool-aged children from low-income families. The Center for Disease Control examined the 2009 data from Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System and found that more than 15 percent of low-income 2- to 4-year-old children in California are overweight or obese (defined as being at or above the 95th percentile on the growth chart). In Riverside County, 13.8 percent of children ages 2 to 4 living in a household under 185 percent federal poverty level are overweight (2007 California Health Interview Survey).

What Has ANR Done?

Teaching children to embrace an active and healthy lifestyle could help reverse the trend in childhood obesity. Since young children learn by modeling their parents, the teaching must begin at home. Low-income families often lack access to preventive health and nutrition information. Therefore, helping Head Start parents understand the relationship between diet, physical activity and health, and learn how to make healthy food choices for the family is the first step in helping their children form healthy food habits. The UC Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has partnered with the Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE), Children and Family Services unit, to provide nutrition education to Head Start families. Youth EFNEP staff members train Head Start teachers to deliver the USDA's "Go, Glow, Grow Foods for You" curriculum to Head Start children, and adult EFNEP nutrition educators deliver the "Eating Smart Being Active" curriculum to their parents.

The Payoff

Head Start families showed improvement in their food behaviors.

During FY 2009-2010, 69 RCOE Head Start parents graduated from EFNEP after completing a series of 8 one-hour lessons from Eating Smart Being Active curriculum. Food behavior surveys for this group taken before and after the lessons show that 73 percent of the graduates now more often use the ‘Nutrition Facts’ on food labels when they purchase food, 45 percent more often think about healthy food choices when deciding what to feed their family, 66 percent more often make a list for grocery shopping, 45 percent more often plan meals in advance, and 67 percent more often prepare foods without adding salt. Ten teachers from three RCOE Head Start sites (Perris, Arlanza and Bryant Park) conducted nutrition activities from "Go, Glow, Grow" curriculum with 204 Head Start children. The teachers said the children enjoyed the activities and the concept of food helping them to go, glow and grow is easy for them to understand.


Supporting Unit:

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Riverside County
Chutima Ganthavorn, (951) 683-6491, cganthavorn@ucdavis.edu
Fatima Afana, (951) 683-6491, fafana@ucdavis.edu