Healthy Food Choices in Schools: Nutrition + Active Play + Parenting = SUCCESS

A webinar on September 17, 2014 debuted a new curriculum developed by the Collaboration for Health, Activity and Nutrition in Children’s Environments (CHANCE) at Cornell University entitled Healthy Children, Healthy Families: Parents Making a Difference (HCHF). This curriculum was developed to combat unhealthy weight gain, to promote healthy eating and activity, and to reduce chronic disease among low-income children through dialogue and collaboration with parents and other influential adults who shape the environments where children live, learn, and play.

Tisa Hill, the CHANCE program leader, presented a pilot program that rolled out in New York State in a low-income area. Included in the pilot program were workshops for parents that focused on nutrition, active play, parenting role-play, and behavior change. Implementing this new HCHF pilot in New York proved to be successful in improving consumption of healthy food, increased physical activity, and improved parenting behaviors among the first 315 low-income parents who completed the curriculum.

Why was Healthy Children, Healthy Families developed?Green And Red Healthy Food

  • Most children do not get the daily recommended amounts of all nutrients
  • Only 50% to 66% of youth are vigorously active
  • Kids watch approximately three hours of TV each day

What are the paths to success for healthy children and healthy families?

  • Drink water instead of sweetened drinks
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Play actively
  • Eat fewer high fat and high sugar foods
  • Limit TV and computer time
  • Have sensible servings

The Keys to Success for parents to develop HCHF concepts at home include:

  • Showing: Teach by example—eat well and play with children, show them behaviors you want to see. Taste different foods, develop healthy recipes, and choose healthy snacks together.
  • Supporting: Help children feel good about themselves—praise healthy behaviors and respect their feelings.
  • Guiding: Offer choices within limits—tell children what they can do, not what they can’t do; involve them in decisions. Do fun activities and role-play together related to food and physical activity.
  • Shaping: Make healthy choices easier—change environments to encourage healthier behaviors, create family routines that build on healthy habits.

These same HCHF keys used outside the home may include:

  • Showing: Teachers eating with students and modeling healthy food and drink choices.
  • Supporting: Encourage healthy choices by recognizing healthy students in weekly announcements.
  • Guiding: Offer in-class choices within limits (e.g., school snack policies).
  • Shaping: Develop wellness policies within school districts, establish community gardens on school property, and establishing smarter lunchrooms.

You can view a recording of the webinar.