Nutrition Education for Preschoolers

Children’s Hunger Alliance Launches Nutrition Education Program at Two Cincinnati Daycare Centers

EatPlayGrow™ Uses Fun, Hands-On Educational Lessons to Teach Preschoolers About Healthy Eating Habits

COLUMBUS, OH – August 9, 2017 – Some preschoolers in Cincinnati may start choosing carrots over cookies, broccoli over brownies and melons over mac and cheese. That’s because these children are participating in a unique nutrition education program that aims to ingrain healthy eating habits and physical activity at an early age.

The Children’s Hunger Alliance, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to ending childhood hunger in Ohio, is offering the EatPlayGrow™ early childhood health curriculum to children at two Cincinnati childcare centers: Willow Tree House Child Learning Center, 2651 Highland Ave., and Next Generation Early Learning Center, 1301 E. McMillan St. The agency has also offered the enrichment program at no charge to eight additional childcare centers across Ohio this year, thanks to funding from the Walmart Foundation and the Ingram-White Castle Foundation.

A preschooler at an Ohio daycare learns to use cheese, whole grain crackers and bell peppers to make a fun, healthy snack.

Developed by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health, the 11-week EatPlayGrow program uses fun, hands-on activities to teach children ages 6 and younger to make healthy choices about nutrition and physical activity. The curriculum features 11 healthy lifestyle lessons on topics such as “My Five Senses,” “Fabulous Fruits,” “Perfect Portion” and “I Love My Veggies.” Registered dieticians from Children’s Hunger Alliance will lead the lessons, which incorporate art, music, literacy, storytelling and movement activities.

“We know that children have a say in what caretakers buy at the store,” said Mark Haynes, director of nutrition education for the Children’s Hunger Alliance. “Advertisers target 4 and 5 year olds knowing kids will ask for products they are excited about – and many times these foods are high in sugar or lack nutrition that growing children need. We want to change the tide and get kids excited about eating healthy so they’ll ask for blueberries and celery sticks and other foods they know are good for their bodies.”

EatPlayGrow includes simple strategies that make healthy choices fun and easy to adopt at home, allowing kids to influence their parents’ food-buying habits. Third-party evaluations of the program across diverse audiences showed that parents of participants made clear changes to their purchasing habits and children had positive shifts in attitudes and behaviors about food, physical activity and sleep.

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