One of the many reasons Wholesome Tummies packs our kids menu with tons of good-for-you foods!
As reported in the Capital Times…
Study: Students’ exposure to produce inspires healthier choices
Doug Shore — 8/18/2008 6:34 pm
As child obesity continues to be a major health concern nationwide, results from a new study indicate children may be influenced to eat better simply through exposure to healthier foods.
The study, which was published in the most recent Wisconsin Medical Journal, involved data from two groups of Wisconsin fourth-, seventh– and ninth-grade students. One group, consisting of 784 students, received fruit and vegetable snacks in school as part of a USDA program. The other 343 students in the study were not being given fruit or vegetable snacks at school.
After the first three months of the USDA program, students in both groups were asked about their willingness to try new fruits or vegetables at school. Researchers found the 784 students receiving snacks as part of the USDA program were twice as likely to try a new fruit at school compared to the children not taking part in the program.
“The basic conclusion is that after only three months, the students in the USDA program were more willing to try fruit and vegetables at school,” said Eric Jamelske, associate professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and one of the lead authors of the study.
After looking at the data, Jamelske also hypothesized that the USDA snack program had more of a positive effect on the fourth-graders.
“The data seems to indicate that the sooner kids are introduced to fruit and vegetables, the more likely they are to choose them as snacks instead of candy and soda,” Jamelske said.
Jamelske and Lori Bica, an associate professor of psychology at UW-Eau Claire, will continue to conduct research on the program and the eating habits of children. They hope to produce more specific data regarding exactly which fruits and vegetables kids are willing to eat.
“We’re a little too dependent on the schools for data,” said Jamelske.
Sherman Middle School in Madison took part in Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) last year. Principal Michael Hernandez said the program was an unqualified success, and almost all of the kids were excited to get the fruit or vegetable snacks.
“About 95 percent of the students looked forward to the snacks,” said Hernandez. “Kids, teachers and parents all thought it was a great idea.”
Blueberries and kiwis were two of the most popular items at Sherman. He said the program did well in exposing kids to healthy foods they normally do not eat.
“Most students had not tried kiwis before, but they were a big hit,” Hernandez said. “And I am always seeing kids eating blueberry-flavored candy, so it was nice to be able to offer kids real blueberries, which they loved.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the FFVP in 2002 to help improve nutrition and help children avoid becoming overweight or obese. The program provides funding for students from selected schools to receive free fresh fruit or vegetable snacks for an academic year.
According to Jamelske, Wisconsin was one of 14 states to receive funding for the snack program last year, but thanks to changes in the most recent farm bill all 50 states will now participate in the FFVP. However, legislation will limit the program to 25 elementary schools in each state.
Although Sherman Middle School will not receive the FFVP grant for the upcoming school year, Hernandez believes the program should be expanded.
“This program is what schools should be doing,” said Hernandez. “It’s much better than having candy and soda machines in the lunchroom.”