Shaping Health Behaviors Through Science Enrichment
The epidemic of obesity in children and adolescents is a major challenge in the prevention and medical management of obesity. It is serious and alarming because being overweight or obese as a child or adolescent greatly increases the risks for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes heart disease sleep apnea stroke joint pain and some cancers. The increasing number of obese children and adolescents will lead to a large increase in the number of adult obese Americans. Obesity affects at least 25 percent of all adolescents in the United States with young Hispanic Americans and African Americans at higher risk. A strong relationship has been shown between childhood and adult obesity: One third of obese preschoolers and more than one half of obese grade school kids become obese adults. A Science Education Partnership is proposed to promote obesity prevention in Colorado. The Program on Obesity of the Center for Human Nutrition will partner with the Department of Preventive Medicine in the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing at UCHSC Det of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University the Culinary Arts Program of Johnson & Wales University in Denver. These university groups will also work collaboratively with the major science museums in Denver: the Museum of Natural History the Children’s Museum and Botanic Garden. The Partnership will aim to reduce the rate of childhood and adolescent obesity in Colorado by introducing science and math enrichment programs in elementary schools as well as science museum-based and school-based programs directed at middle and high school students and the community. These programs will provide interactive “hands-on” fun and challenging educational science enrichment using examples and exercises from food nutrition healthy eating physical activity and the biology of body weight regulation. Internet-based technology will be used for many lessons activities and data collection on health behaviors nd knowledge of students. All programs will include elements on obesity-its causes health impacts and prevention. These model programs will be evaluated by: a) determining the rate of weight and body mass index (BMI) gain of individual students; b) improvement in science-based health knowledge; and c) improvement in health behaviors in individual elementary school students. In addition we propose to establish and provide leadership for a partnership of interested organizations within Colorado to plan develop implement and support a public health campaign. The goal of the campaign will be to prevent obesity and enhance health through the promotion of active lifestyles and healthy eating with a special focus on changing the behavior of children and their families.
This obesity prevention project for students in grades K-6 links nutritional science experts with classrooms at elementary schools to provide science enrichment in class after-school and through outreach activities to teach healthy lifestyles. A diverse team of classroom activity leaders (health professionals farmers chefs) will visit the classroom throughout the school year to deliver a program that is customized to build on the needs knowledge and opportunities of the class and the school. The Deptartment of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University will lead this program and partner with the Culinary Arts Program of Johnson & Wales University the Museum of Nature and Science the Children-s Museum in Denver and the Discovery Center Science Museum in Fort Collins. The Partnership will aim to reduce the rate of childhood and adolescent obesity in Colorado by introducing science and math enrichment programs in elementary schools as well as in science museum-based programs directed at students and the community. The project will be evaluated by determining the rate of weight and body mass index (BMI) gain in participants and the improvement in science-based health knowledge and in health behaviors in elementary school students.