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AUSTIN, Tex. -- Whole Foods Market yesterday helped launch a campaign aimed at preventing childhood obesity, juvenile diabetes, and other diet-related health problems, in partnership with parents, and food companies.
The program is being called Eat Smart, Grow Strong. In addition to Whole Foods, sponsors of the program include Annie's Homegrown, Applegate Farms, Horizon Organic, Newman's Own, and Newman's Own Organics.
On Saturday, Sept. 24, Whole Foods Market will kick off the campaign with kids' farmers markets at more than 30 stores from 9 a.m.to noon in cities including Baltimore Md., Charlottesville Va., Columbus Ohio, Louisville Ky., New York, N.Y., Philadelphia Pa., Pittsburgh Pa., Princeton N.J., and Washington, DC.
"Kids learn their eating habits at home, and those habits influence the choices they make at school, the mall, and everywhere else they eat for the rest of their lives," said Susan Lamontagne, a parent and one of the campaign's creators.
"Home-made family meals tend to be healthier, children's nutrition is better, and the benefits are not limited to what's on your plate," said Dr. David Katz, director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine and associate director of Nutrition Science, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. "Research shows that young people who eat regular family meals eat less fried food and saturated fat and drink less soda. They also eat more fruits and vegetables and get more vitamins and other nutrients."
The program's launch also included the Eat Smart, Grow Strong interactive Web site, http://www.EatSmartGrowStrong.com and a game for children to play while they are food shopping with their parents. The game, called Supermarket Spy Game, teaches the basics of nutrition, how to read a nutrition label, what to look for in food -- good and bad -- and how to find healthy alternatives.
The campaign's Web site serves as a forum for parents, and offers ideas about how to make home and school more nutrition friendly, such as sharing healthy eating strategies with other parents, joining healthy snack and supper clubs, and playing games that teach how to eat healthy. "Children who try a wide variety of healthy foods prior to the age of two have a better chance of being a good eater later," according to Dr. Ramasamy Manikam, one of the nation's leading experts in pediatric feeding and diet-related diseases.