2 min read
A young black girl learning in a class room.
Dominguez Hurry

Dominguez Hurry, a SNAP-Ed educator in Bullock County.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala — Third-grade classrooms in Alabama are transformed each year into a dojo to combat childhood obesity. This is done through Body Quest, Alabama SNAP-Ed’s flagship-school-based initiative that empowers third graders and their parents to make healthier choices.

The Body Quest classes are taught by SNAP-Ed educators. The statewide effort employs a combination of theory-driven classroom instruction, technology and evidence-based approaches to prevent and reduce childhood obesity. In 2019 and 2020, SNAP-Ed educators taught Body Quest to 7,112 third graders. This education outreach covered 57 Alabama counties, 124 schools and 377 classrooms.

Sondra Parmer, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System program leader for nutrition programs, said at the end of the lessons, students were eating and drinking healthier. In facts, results showed that students were consuming more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water than before Body Quest started.

Third graders weren’t the only ones making changes. Parmer said SNAP-Ed connected with 5,320 parents with at-home recipe-testing and text messaging-based education. By the end of the lessons, parents also said they were eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water.

A Needed Change

Parmer said Alabama has among the highest obesity rates and obesity-related disease rates in the nation.

“Dietary patterns begin in childhood, making child nutrition education and early intervention critical,” Parmer said. “Since children are in school during much of the day, schools can create an environment where students learn the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, practice making decisions about healthy diet and beverage options and participate in physical activity. School also provides an opportunity to reach parents–who act as nutritional gatekeepers in the home–with education to promote healthy choices and practices.”

More Information

For more information about Body Quest or Alabama SNAP-Ed, visit www.LiveWellAlabama.com. People can also find more information by liking and following Live Well Alabama on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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