- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The concept was proven successful at a day camp offered by the City of Fresno Parks and Recreation and Fresno County UC Cooperative Extension this summer. About 90 overweight or obese children were recruited to participate in the six-week program at Ted C. Wills Community Center and Holmes Playground. Their parents attended two mandatory evening meetings a week.
In all, the campers lost 241 pounds. More significantly, a combined 253 centimeters was erased from the children’s waistlines. The number of pounds lost is skewed by the fact that some of the children grew taller during the summer. The number of waistline inches lost reflects improved muscle tone.
“Without involving parents, it is very difficult for children to make changes in food choices,” said Sara Bosse, the nutrition education manager for UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. “Parents are the ones doing the shopping and preparing meals. If the children don’t have the opportunity to practice what they learned at home, their efforts are going to be sabotaged.”
The children gathered five days a week to learn about and taste fruits and vegetables prepared in several different ways. The recipes were shared with parents at the evening meetings, where they also had the opportunity to try some prepared dishes.
“With exposure to the food in different manners, they gain acceptance to fruits and vegetables that they didn’t like before,” Bosse said.
The children also participated in physical activities and maintained journals in which they chronicled their evolving tastes for healthy food.
Previous research has shown that children typically gain more weight in the summertime than they do during the school year.
“If kids aren’t involved in a program, they may be just sitting at home and getting bored and eating more,” Bosse said.
This year’s project shows how that trend can be reversed.
View a video of a healthy fitness camp parent meeting featuring UC Cooperative Extension nutrition program coordinator Angelita Zaragoza below.
Following is the recipe:
Vegetable and tofu stirfry
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 ounces firm tofu cut into small cubes
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
5 cuts cut up vegetables, fresh or frozen, such as broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, carrots, etc.
2 cups broth
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon garlic powder
A pinch of pepper
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 cups cooked brown rice
Sauté tofu in oil until lightly browned. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the rice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve on cooked brown rice.