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EFNEP impacts; Kindergarten children eating lunch smiling at camera

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Obesity, poor nutrition, and limited physical activity are significant health concerns. Poor health disproportionately affects limited-resource populations. EFNEP improves the health of these families and children. Additionally, EFNEP leads to public savings. Research shows that better health is associated with reduced health care costs, less absenteeism from work, and less dependence on emergency food assistance. EFNEP is an integral part of Alabama Extension programming.

Reducing Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is one of the greatest and most pressing child health issues in Alabama. Children of limited-resource families are at particular risk. In 2014, 6,587 young people participated in the evidence-based CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program. At the conclusion, 88 percent increased their ability to choose foods based on food guidance recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Nutrition education for young people plays an important role in the prevention of childhood obesity.

Lowering Infant Mortality

In 2013, Alabama ranked second highest in the nation in infant mortality and third highest in low birth weight babies. To help combat infant mortality and ensure successful birth outcomes, 615 moms-to-be enrolled in the practice-based Today’s Mom program. Participants combined healthy eating and physical activity for a more comfortable pregnancy, easier delivery, and healthier baby. Dietary and physical activity habits learned in Today’s Mom are sustainable before, during, and after pregnancy.

Making Healthy Food Choices

In 2014, 2,593 heads of households from Alabama’s most vulnerable populations completed six weeks of nutrition education in EFNEP. Upon exiting the program, 94 percent showed a positive change in at least one food group. Increasing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein foods, and dairy while decreasing oils, solid fats, and sugars helps guard against chronic diseases and encourages healthy food choices.

Increasing Physical Activity

Alabama is one of the most inactive states in the nation, ranking sixth in physical inactivity. Increasing physical activity helps individuals maintain healthy weight and combat obesity and chronic diseases. In 2014, 2,515 adult EFNEP graduates engaged in physical activity. Nearly 39 percent showed a positive change in physical activity upon exiting the program. From forming their own walking groups to stretching and pushing a baby in a stroller, limited-resource families found ways to move more.

Contact your local Extension office for more information. Follow Alabama EFNEP on Facebook and Twitter. Text EFNEP to 555888 to receive nutrition tips. 

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