PHOTO: Teens in USD 334 (Glasco) asked school officials to add salad bars to school lunch programs. The salad bar was partially funded by a $3,000 K-State Research and Extension Get It-Do It! grant, which is available to Kansas PRIDE communities to encourage youth and adults to collaborate on physical activity and health activities.
According to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011,” a report from the Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kansas’ adult obesity rate is 29 percent — more than double the 13.5 percent rate 15 years ago.
The same report states that 15 years ago, Kansas had a combined obesity and overweight rate of 47.6 percent. Ten years ago, it was 56.6 percent. In 2011, it was 64.9 percent.
While some blame specific foods, K-State Research and Extension educators focus on research-based nutrition education:
• In Wyandotte County, Nozella Brown favors a positive, proactive approach. “Start where you are, and strive toward making healthier choices that will make a difference over time,” she said.
“Many in our population are unfamiliar with the effects of obesity and chronic diseases such as hypertension or diabetes,” said Brown, who often teams with urban partners such as El Centro, the Latino Health for All Coalition, and the University of Missouri Extension to serve a diverse population.
• In Seward County, Kathy Bloom collaborated with school nurse Ladona Roddy to introduce Walk Kansas, an eight-week fitness challenge, to high school youth. Twenty teams of six logged more than 5,000 hours of physical activity. They averaged 2,800 miles per week, covering 22,702 miles. Statewide, Walk Kansas 2012 attracted 18,653 participants committed to increasing physical activity and eating more healthfully.
• In Shawnee County, Lisa Martin — working with the USDA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) — serves on the leadership team for a community-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant to reduce sodium. The grant also includes working with convenience stores and public sites, such as the Topeka Zoo’s concessions stands, to identify healthy choices, she said.
• In Riley County, Ginny Barnard used EFNEP to teach a summer nutrition and cooking program for 150 first- through sixth-grade students from the Boys and Girls Club. In a post-program survey, 100 percent of the youth reported caring about eating healthy foods, 86 percent plan to eat breakfast every day, 78 percent plan to eat more fruit, 72 percent plan to eat more vegetables, and 65 percent plan to encourage their friends and family to eat more healthful foods.
• In 2012, Tanda Kidd, state nutrition specialist, developed a successful five-year, three-state $2.5 million adolescent obesity prevention grant awarded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. She will lead the community-based participatory effort to explore 12- to 15-year-olds’ eating habits and barriers in choosing health-promoting foods. The Ohio State University and South Dakota State University will join Kansas in the research project.
• Paula Peters, assistant director for family and consumer sciences programs, is leading the research on the second year of a seven-state, five-year $4,500,652 NIFA grant to study how a community can influence eating and physical activity of 4-year-olds and whether a community coach can assist them. Sandy Procter, state nutrition specialist, along with faculty from the University of Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State, North Dakota State, Ohio State, and South Dakota State universities are following Peters’ lead.
For More Information:
Paula Peters, 785-532-1562, email@example.com
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