New research, announced Saturday at the American Dietetic Association (ADA) Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Boston, highlights the importance of parent-child communication in the battle against childhood obesity.
“Less than half (49 percent) of the students said that their parents frequently talk to them about making healthy choices and 39 percent said they wish their parents would make healthier food choices.”
As part of its proprietary survey program, Student ViewPOINT™, ARAMARK Education, a leading provider of school food and nutrition services, surveyed almost 40,000 middle school and high school students across the country. The research revealed that parent-child communication has a significant influence on the nutrition habits of children. ARAMARK found that when parents talk to their children about healthy choices, their interest in healthy food increases dramatically, from 44 percent to 73 percent. The research also showed that with parental involvement children are more likely to read nutrition labels to help them make better food choices, increasing from 27 percent to 63 percent.
"Proper nutrition and physical activity are critical elements in the fight against childhood obesity and other nutrition-related diseases," said registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association President Judith C. Rodriguez. "We are pleased to see that parents and children continue to show a growing interest in making healthier food choices. By communicating with each other more frequently, they can better understand the link between a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle, including its effect on the management and prevention of disease."
"Our research revealed the critical role parents play in communicating with children about healthy food choices," said Linda Sceurman, MS, RD, LDN and National Director of Nutrition and Menu Development for ARAMARK Education. "Less than half (49 percent) of the students said that their parents frequently talk to them about making healthy choices and 39 percent said they wish their parents would make healthier food choices."
ARAMARK Education used the findings from this research to develop Healthy for Life™, a comprehensive wellness and nutrition education program designed to engage parents and students in wellness.
The Healthy for Life program, now in place at 1,000 schools, focuses on creating healthier school environments through nutritious menus, nutrition education and curriculum, parental resource materials, a nutrition mascot, health fairs and school events.
The educational components of the Healthy for Life program allow educators, administrators, parents and guardians to aid children in taking small steps each day to develop good health habits. These practical tools include a "Wellness Education Center" located in the school's main office featuring monthly nutrition tips, "Ask the Dietitian" and other informational resources for parents. Healthy menu messages and icons, posters and other materials highlight nutrition and wellness messages for students, including "Understanding Serving Sizes" and "What is a Healthy Diet."
Healthy for Life is enhanced by ARAMARK's vibrant, age-specific dining environments: Cool Caf™ features a fruit and vegetable bar and faster service lines for elementary students; 12-Spot is a high-energy café designed specifically for tweens in middle schools; and U.B.U. Lounge offers high school students a chance to relax on couches and listen to music, while refueling with a nutritious meal. ARAMARK also offers a fruit and vegetable of the month program to introduce students of all ages to seasonal produce.
Linda Sceurman, MS, RD, LDN and National Director of Nutrition and Menu Development and Michael Pursell, Associate Vice President of Marketing for ARAMARK Education presented the Student ViewPOINT research, the Healthy For Life™ program and its impact on childhood nutrition at the ADA Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo during the ADA Spokesperson Briefing on Saturday, November 6th.