According to the American Heart Association, approximately one in three children and teens are overweight/obese. Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern among parents in the United States. Among American children ages 2-19, the following percentages of children are obese:
- Non-Hispanic Whites: 17.5% males and 14.7% females.
- Non-Hispanic Blacks: 22.6% males and 24.8% females.
- Mexican Americans: 28.9% males and 18.6% females.
Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona has stated “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have shorter life expectancy than their parents.” (www.heart.org).
So what is your 4-H program doing to help with this crisis? The Mission Nutrition program is a great way to start introducing youth to the importance of healthy living while teaching them how to prepare healthy AND budget friendly foods for themselves and their families. By using fun, hands-on learning and projects youth are able to learn the skills needed to lead a healthy life as both adolescents and adults. Providing healthy living programs to youth will ultimately contribute to lowering the rate of obesity among America’s youth.
Sumter County 4-H collaborated with the Sumter County Youth Center over the winter break to offer a healthy living program called Mission Nutrition. The Sumter County Youth Center (S.C.Y.C) is a non-profit, community-based organization serving the social service needs of youth and families on the north and south ends of the county. Their goal is to enable those we serve to adapt and contribute productively in our multi-cultural society. The youth center has a very diverse and undeserved population of youth, which is one of the reasons for the collaboration.
Funding for the program was provided through a UnitedHealth Care, Food Smart Families grant for $1,000. The Mission Nutrition program was a five-day program designed for ages 8-12. The program offered interactive nutrition activities, food preparation, active games, setting healthy goals each day, and budget friendly recipes.
As a result, of participating, youth will gain knowledge and skills to support healthy lifestyles. Specific outcomes for the program include:
- Drink low-fat milk and water instead of sweetened drinks.
- Learn how to eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits.
- Become aware of Nutritional Facts Labels for fat and sugar content.
- Discover why fast and convenience foods may not be healthy and visualize the fat content in certain fast foods.
- Consider what makes a healthy breakfast and learn how to choose healthier options