Nutrition: A Family Affair

Although a May report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that childhood obesity rates have remained nearly the same from 1999 through 2006, California officials have not declared victory just yet, sponsoring numerous educational programs statewide aimed at combating the epidemic.

One of the most successful programs has been in Riverside County, where county health officials have teamed up with nutritionists, nurses, and doctors to teach participants how to make better health choices. But the catch with this particular program—Riverside Fit Families—is that is not a strict diet regimen.

Rather, the program strives to teach parents and children to collectively educate themselves about the need for exercise as well as the benefits of mindfully counting calories and identifying the amount of fat in the foods they choose to eat. It also stresses the importance of small changes, such as drinking 1 percent milk over 2 percent milk, drinking more water and less soda, and eating more fruits and vegetables over foods such as tortillas and bread. Many of these healthy alternatives are available in YoNaturals vending machines.

Measuring obesity by using an individual’s height and weight (the body mass index) and comparing it to established recommended standards, the CDCP’s study found that approximately 32 percent of the more than 8,100 children surveyed between 2003 and 2006 were overweight, while 16 percent were obese and 11 percent were extremely obese.

Responding to these alarming statistics, Riverside County officials have launched a full-scale assault using RFF, coaching participants how to read and interpret nutrition facts on grocery store labels in an effort to inform families that buying healthier foods does not necessarily have to be more expensive. Furthermore, officials aim to keep families on track by avoiding trying to persuade them to immediately shed pounds or work unrealistic exercise routines into their day, instead letting the pounds melt off naturally through the nutrition tips, which also include buying less red meat and using less cooking oil.

The results have been very encouraging: about 200 people have enrolled in the eight-week session program, with some families sporting numerous individuals who have dropped nearly 10 pounds each by simply changing small aspects of their eating habits.

The success of this program has demonstrated just how far altering commonly overlooked habits such as drinking too much soda can dramatically improve health. Hopefully more counties around the state and even the country can learn from RFF to make nutrition a family affair, because RFF is proof that when families work together to improve health, the benefits are very real. Of course, the most important thing is to provide these healthier alternatives such as YoNaturals healthy vending machines, without which healthy choices cannot be made at all.

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