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PARENTS AS TEACHERS TRAINING PROGRAM PROVIDES A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS IN FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD OBESITY

‘High 5 for Kids’ Offers Professionals Tools to Help Improve Eating and Fitness Habits of Preschoolers

By Maya Lunnemann

ST. LOUIS (June 26, 2008) – Despite a reduction in childhood obesity rates recently, early childhood professionals continue to reinforce awareness among parents about their role in encouraging nutrition and fitness of their young children. Parents consistently underestimate the power they have in modeling good nutrition and fitness habits for their children, say early childhood specialists at Parents as Teachers National Center.

Parents as Teachers National Center tackles the issue of childhood obesity through the “High 5 for Kids” program. This Web-based course for early childhood professionals offers tools and strategies to help parents improve eating and fitness habits of their preschoolers.

“Parents are the key factor in establishing healthy eating and fitness habits in children,” says Kerry Caverly, professional development director with Parents as Teachers National Center. “With this research-based program, we are helping professionals discuss what can be a sensitive subject for families: improving the diet and overall fitness of all family members in ways that will have both immediate and long-term benefits.”

“High 5 for Kids” equips educators and other professionals to help parents find ways to introduce new foods, create healthy eating environments and increase physical activity in preschoolers which can prevent future health conditions related to obesity, including asthma, diabetes and cancer. Because parents are their children’s first and most important role models, the course provides simple steps for incorporating healthy habits into daily routines, such as increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, limiting the amount of time children watch TV and increasing physical activity. It also provides practical suggestions and tools for professionals to use with parents and preschool-age children. For example, summer is a great time for professionals to talk to parents about introducing their children to more fruits and vegetables, because fresh produce is in abundance and can be purchased at local farmers markets.

The “High 5 for Kids” program grew out of a collaborative effort between Saint Louis University School of Public Health and Parents as Teachers National Center. The three-year project to develop and evaluate the curriculum was funded by the National Cancer Institute. Parents as Teachers National Center offers the Web-based training for $50, which includes resource materials, visit plans and parent handouts.

Parents as Teachers National Center offers professional training through Parents as Teachers University on a variety of other early childhood-related topics, such as literacy and child development. For more information on these topics and for registration details, go to www.ParentsAsTeachers.org/University or call (314) 432-4330, ext. 251.

About Parents as Teachers National Center

Based in St. Louis, Parents as Teachers National Center is the resource base and backbone of Parents as Teachers, a parent education and early childhood development program serving parents throughout pregnancy until their child enters kindergarten, usually age 5. The nonprofit National Center oversees approximately 3,000 programs offering Parents as Teachers services nationwide as well as in several other countries. For more information about Parents as Teachers, visit www.ParentsAsTeachers.org.

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