The American Heart Association is taking a fresh new approach in the fight against childhood obesity by working with America’s schools to teach kids about healthy living through fun, hands-on Teaching Gardens. .
The Teaching Gardens are real-life learning laboratories where elementary school students can learn what it truly means to be healthy; a first step in reversing the obesity epidemic. Enhancing the diets of children is essential – currently, less than one percent of the adult population and nearly no children ages 12-19 are in ideal heart-health, in large part due to the lack of a healthy diet. And if this trend continues, experts predict this generation to be the first to live shorter lives than their parents.Research shows the gardens dramatically change the way children think about food and consume it – it indicates children who participate in school gardening programs have a greater chance of trying and liking fruits and vegetables and are more prone to eat their garden-grown food for up to six months.
The garden will not only offer education on nutrition and healthy food choices, they will ultimately help the students be more productive in school. Studies also show that normal weight children have higher scholastic achievement, less absenteeism and higher physical fitness levels than their obese counterparts. In fact, one study suggests that nutritional education, combined with garden-based learning, is more effective than either alone in changing students’ fruit or vegetable intake.
To make progress in its mission to improve the health of all Americans and reduce cardiovascular mortalities, the American Heart Association must continue to create and manage programs that combat the childhood obesity epidemic. Combined with partnerships and the association’s credibility and scientific expertise, the organization is uniquely suited to do so. The American Heart Association has a 40-year history as a leader in the field of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention through its efforts based strictly on leading medical and scientific information. And through the My Heart. My Life. platform, the association is engaged with more than 100 local companies who are passionate about bettering the health of our community.