Parents are still having a difficult time picking healthy foods for their children even when they want to make the right choices, and a move to send a chef to Southern California schools might help solve the problem.
In the average elementary school classroom, about one out of every three children is overweight or obese. This can eventually lead to heart disease and chronic health problems.
A new survey from the Cleveland Clinic released on Monday found that parents admitted the struggle about getting the best foods for their kids.
To cut through this confusion, the American Heart Association is sending a professional chef to Southern California elementary schools to teach kids how to eat heart healthy.
"So they start to become conscious of the different tastes on their plate and they know that everything doesn’t have to be just sugar, fat, and salt," said Chef Bryce Fluellen of the American Heart Association.
As part of the American Heart Association’s "Kids Cook with Heart" program, Fluellen makes weekly visits to students at several lower-income schools throughout Los Angeles.
During the 90-minute cooking sessions, the kids gain hands-on experience preparing healthy alternatives, such as fruit and vegetable smoothies.
“It tastes good because it makes my body stronger and it makes you live a longer life,” said Desire, a student at 61st Street Elementary School in Los Angeles.
The program lasts six weeks and is free for the schools and the students. By the end, the American Heart Association hopes that the kids will have learned the building blocks of what it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle.
"They’ll be able to make their own healthy meal on their own or at least have some skills that will help them build upon doing that in the future," Fluellen said.
Fluellen says that introducing even small dietary changes at a young age can help prevent such diseases as heart disease and diabetes. This is especially true for children from low-income neighborhoods, where fresh produce is expensive and often hard to find.
"I think it’s important because if we eat the healthy stuff that he’s telling us to eat and the fruits and vegetables, we’ll live a healthy life like for a long time," said Keiona, a 9-year-old who also attends 61st Street Elementary School.
This program is a great first step but parents need to build on what their kids are learning.
The same practices have to exist at home and in school. While it can be difficult especially with income and money stresses, the few extra minutes to buy and eat fresh and to develop good habits will really pay off.