Students in the Maine iCook 4-H program learn healthy eating and food preparation habits. (Adrienne White, University of Maine)
Since the economic downturn of 2008, sufficient access to healthy foods has been a serious problem for many Americans. As a result, more than 17 million households confront hunger throughout the year while more than 12 million children are obese.
To address these problems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has worked with five other USDA agencies to develop science-based food and nutrition strategies. These agencies joined the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research – a collaboration among the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services and several other government agencies – to develop the National Nutrition Research Roadmap (NNRR). This roadmap characterizes and coordinates federally funded nutrition research to identify future research needs and opportunities. Read more »
Agricultural Research Service scientists are studying the relationship between eating behaviors and cognitive control as an avenue to address childhood obesity. ARS photo by Scott Bauer.
American children are gaining weight. Obesity now affects one in six children and adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s a major concern because extra pounds can increase risk for developing serious health problems in children, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
While strategies to reduce childhood obesity include improving diet and increasing exercise, USDA scientists are looking for ways to prevent behaviors in children that may lead to obesity. Nutritionist Kevin Laugero, who works at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, California, recently investigated the relationship between obesity, unhealthy eating behaviors and decreased mental skills in 3- to 6-year-olds. Read more »
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation (“The Alliance”) was founded as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity. To combat this epidemic and to help make the healthy choice the easy choice, the Alliance created the Healthy Schools Program in 2006, launched in 231 schools in 13 states. The Healthy Schools Program has since grown to become the nation’s most extensive effort to prevent childhood obesity in schools and is now building healthier school environments for more than 17 million students in more than 29,000 schools in every state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
By Jill Turley, MS, RD/LD and Joshua Moore of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Produce is packed full of the nutrients youth need to learn and play, whether at school, in an out-of-school time program, or at home. Children should be exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables to help ensure these products are what come to mind when reaching for a snack.
Innovations in the produce industry can help with just that! The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, in collaboration with the United Fresh Produce Association, has identified several kid-friendly, single-serve, fresh produce snacks that meet USDA’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards and offer easy, delicious snack options for schools or out-of-school time programs. Read more »
The Ninos Sanos, Familia Sana program uses NIFA-administered grant funds to teach a new culture of healthy living to residents of Firebaugh, Calif. (Poster courtesy of Elizabeth Bishay)
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
What started as a project to test the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention methods has turned into a community-wide effort and a new culture of health for families in Firebaugh, California. Read more »
The ‘Enter Training Information’ page of the Professional Standards Tracking Tool provides training information for a school or school district’s employees. (Click to enlarge)
As a former school nutrition director, I can tell you that school nutrition professionals are dedicated to serving nutritious meals to their students and committed to making the new meal patterns work. Established by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the new standards require schools to prepare healthier meals for the nearly 31 million children who rely on them each and every school day. At USDA, we understand school nutrition professionals are on the front lines every day as we all work together to improve nutrition and reduce obesity in our nation’s children….and we’re glad we have them in our corner!
In March, USDA announced the final rule to establish national professional standards and training requirements for school nutrition personnel who manage and operate our meal programs. The rule establishes education and training standards to ensure personnel have the training and tools to plan, prepare, and purchase healthy foods. These strategies will support our hardworking school nutrition professionals as they create nutritious, safe and enjoyable school meals for our kids. Read more »
Maine 4-H learn some knife skills as part of the University of Maine’s “iCook” program. Four other states are joining Maine in this childhood obesity prevention program. (Courtesy photo from Maine 4-H)
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years, leading to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and breathing problems.
Researchers from the University of Maine have developed the 4-H iCook project to tackle this issue in the home. The program encourages families to cook, eat, and exercise together while improving culinary skills and increasing physical activity. Read more »