Health lesson tickles tastebuds

At the end of a long school day, many children return home to munch on sugary cookies, salty potato chips or the classic cheeseburger and fries.
Alissa Widman Neese
Dec 25, 2013
But this past week at Hancock Elementary School, sixth-grader Tariquen Upshaw delved a tortilla chip into a plate of seven-layer Tex Mex dip, a healthy alternative to the typical afterschool snack.

Donna Green, a nutrition educator from Ohio State University’s Extension Office in Erie County, visited Tariquen’s school this past week to teach his class about the importance of healthy foods.

Green didn’t just talk to students — she let them taste the difference themselves.

After a half-hour presentation, she let each child try hummus and pretzels, as well as tortilla chips and her homemade Tex Mex dip, with the latter clearly emerging as the popular choice.

“It was really good” Tariquen said.

Tariquen said his favorite part of Green’s presentation was learning how the body works.

Using miniature replicas of the human body, the educator demonstrated the impact of healthy and unhealthy foods on body parts, such as the liver, brain and colon. She also showed them how to use MyPlate, the current U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guide, to develop good daily eating habits and keep their bodies healthy.

It was an important lesson, since studies indicate many students aren’t eating correctly.

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years, leading to serious health concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

In 2010, more than one-third of children and adolescents were considered overweight or obese.

By speaking with students in many area classrooms each year, Green said she hopes she can make an impact and encourage students and their families to buck the unfortunate trend.

“Sure, it’s easy to simply tell them ‘eat your fruits and vegetables,’ but I want to show them why they need to do it” Green said. “Then they can connect the dots and become motivated to change, and encourage their parents to get on board, too”


There you go again

We need Michelle Obama to speak at our schools and convince our students to eat healthy foods. Then she should have a discussion about choosing a health plan on Obamacare. You know, make it a nice little discussion with your family at Thanksgiving and Christmas.