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Research aims to prevent obesity by reaching parents, young children through child care
Date:11/16/2011

ation of the program and we're finding preliminary evidence that some parents are improving the home environment," Dzewaltowski said. "The parents are providing more fresh fruits and reporting that they are eating fast food fewer times per week. They are also increasing visits to parks and reporting that their children are asking to play outside more and asking for few cakes, doughnut and muffins."

The project's 12-week program reaches young children through elements such as adult-led activities, dramatic play and snack time. It uses a traffic light, which helps children understand healthy eating through green and yellow foods, called "go" and "slow" foods. The program also uses a traffic light to understand physical activity versus sedentary activity as well as media that promote healthy or unhealthy options.

The researchers focus on two types of traffic foods with the 3- to 5-year-olds: healthy go foods that can be eaten all the time and slow foods that should be eaten in moderation. The children learn about these foods by singing a song composed by Teri Holmberg, a Kansas State University instructor of music and certified music therapist.

Daily activities focus on go and slow foods to help children start thinking about healthy eating. For instance, during dramatic play, children use a toy stove to cook pretend fruits and vegetables. At snack time, child care providers prompt the children to think if they are eating a go or slow food. The children also learn the difference between active and sedentary toys.

"Literature has suggested that the food industry has been very effective in marketing to young kids to nag their parents," Dzewaltowski said. "What we are focusing on is positive nagging, or positive pestering, where kids start to think about asking their parents for healthy foods."

The project also includes a home connection, where the child care providers inform parents through weekly activities and newsletters to
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Contact: David Dzewaltowski
dadx@k-state.edu
785-532-7795
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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