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New Clinical Data Shows Nutrition Education for Parents is Vital to Improving Children’s Health
Participants in the L.E.A.N. Start Program developed by Dr. Sears , parents reported significant changes in healthy behaviors, including a 52 percent increase in reading nutritional labels and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“To make a significant change in the health of our children, we must emphasize the role parents play in modeling healthy behavior, and educate parents on the benefits and principles of nutrition because they are responsible for grocery shopping, preparing meals, and shaping children’s tastes,” said Dr. William Sears, program co-founder and author of LEAN Kids and The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood. “There are a number of programs out there but they fail to impact the behavior of the parents. We’ve determined that in order to achieve real success, the education of parents is critical.”
The L.E.A.N. Start Program was first launched in Orange County, Calif. in 2007 after several years of trials and development in response to growing concerns over childhood obesity, nutrition deficit disorder and reported ineffectiveness of government-funded, child directed programs. The program was created by Dr. Sears and Sean Foy, M.A., with support and funding from the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, CA, and conducted with Boys & Girls Clubs, WIC, Head Start, local school districts and mom’s groups. The six-week program keenly focuses on lifestyle, exercise, attitude and nutrition (L.E.A.N.), and equipping parents with the knowledge, tools and skills they need to improve the heath of their children and foster healthy lifestyles in their households. Over a period of several months, approximately 1,200 parents and caregivers of young children participated in the interactive six-week workshop. The workshop teaches parents how to make shopping easier, how to make healthy foods taste great, and how to incorporate these principles into hectic schedules.
“Obesity isn’t the only problem our kids are facing, so we’ve designed a program that tackles a number of nutrition-related illnesses and issues,” said Foy. “The parents we see in our programs are motivated by wanting their children to be healthy, and ultimately we are seeing significant improvement in both the parents and children. Parents who completed the course had an average confidence level of 4.43 out of 5 for continuing the healthy behaviors.”
Parents and caregivers who participated in the workshop also reported a substantial decrease in television and computer usage among young children and an increase in physical activity. Television and computer usage decreased by 28 and 37 percent respectively. The results are based on responses from 600 participants. Clinical data is still being collected, and research is ongoing.
“We look forward to equipping parents and caregivers in the area to help create healthy behaviors for their children and families that will last a lifetime,” said Certified L.E.A.N. Coach Catherine Whitcher. Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed is also founder of www.missioncleankids.com and has a daughter who has recovered from severe Epilepsy through nutrition and detox. “We think of food as medicine. Eating healthy is not a punishment, it’s the best preventative pill you’ll ever swallow.”
For more information about the course or Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. Start Program, please contact Catherine Whitcher at (815) 302-1273.
William Sears, M.D. practices pediatrics in partnership with his three pediatrician sons in San Clemente, CA. Dr. Sears received his pediatric training at Harvard Medical School's Children's Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. He is the author of more than 35 books on childcare and nutrition, and he has shared his expertise in more than 100 television programs including: Dr. Phil, The Doctors, Oprah, Dateline, 20/20 and Good Morning America where he is often referred to as "America's Pediatrician."