An estimated one-third of children in Missouri are overweight or obese, a statistic which spurred University of Missouri (MU) to create a program aimed at helping kids make healthier lifestyle choices.
The school’s Jump Into Action program lasts the course of a school year, with teachers, school nurses and parents acting as role models to encourage students to exercise more and make healthier food choices.
Additionally, participants attend monthly checkups to track their progress, and parents are provided with newsletters each week in order to reinforce healthy behaviors at home.
“Self efficacy plays an important role in how students behave, feel and think,” said Steve Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU.
So far, researchers have observed that kids who participated in Jump Into Action drank less soda and sugary beverages, exercised more and ate healthier diets, compared to what they had consumed and what their activity levels were prior to joining the program. Additionally, the initiative appeared to result in kids who watch less television and spend less time on the computer.