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Fighting Childhood Obesity with Hands-on Education

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An after-school pilot program at UT Elementary School is helping to expand students’ diets to include nutritious foods and instill a desire to eat healthy and lower student obesity rates. Students learn basic cooking skills and introductory gardening through Garden to Table lessons, a component of the WellNest program, an extension of the school’s Healthy Families Initiative. Additionally, the WellNest program incorporates physical activity three days a week. Two days a week students work with the school’s physical education instructor and one day a week with coaches from Ignite a Dream, an Austin-based nonprofit that administers a team practice in either tennis or soccer. According to data taken over the past three years, the prevalence of being overweight and obese among students has gone from 63 percent down to 50 percent since introducing the Healthy Families Initiative.

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