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Shaping Up Kids' Eating Habits

Middle schoolers need constant reminders and support, study says

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 7, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Children in middle school need repeated reminders and support to have healthy eating habits.

So says a new study in the July/August issue of Health Education & Behavior.

The University of Minnesota study included 16 schools in Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Students enrolled in a healthy eating program had 10 classroom sessions and were given three "Parents Packs" designed to encourage healthy eating habits at home.

These students were exposed to environmental interventions such as posters and access to fruits, vegetables and low-fat snacks.

There was another group of students who weren't enrolled in the program but attended schools where the program was implemented. These students were exposed only to the environmental interventions. A control group included students in schools where there was no program.

Student program peer leaders were given special training, and helped lead group activities and discussions. These leaders showed the biggest increase in fruit and vegetable consumption -- an average of nearly 1 more serving a day than before they started the program, the study says.

Other program participants had an average increase of about half a serving a day, while the control students didn't eat any more fruits or vegetables.

The authors conclude that intensive, multi-faceted programs at school and home are needed to change the eating habits of middle schoolers.

More information

The Kids' Zone has more on kids and nutrition.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, July 2002
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