UConn Nutritionists Develop New Tools to Fight Childhood Obesity
By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications
STORRS, Conn. -- University of Connecticut nutritionists hope to
reduce childhood obesity with two products they have developed for
Colleen Thompson and Ellen Shanley of UConn's nutritional sciences
department, are authors of a new book called "Fueling the Teen Machine," and creators of
an interactive web-based nutrition education game called "Rate
The nutrition education tools will be introduced at an open house
on Thursday, March 22, sponsored by Connecticut Team Nutrition. The
team members include:
UConn's Department of Nutritional Sciences, the Connecticut State
Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Teachers, school administrators and food service personnel have been
invited to the event, which will be held from 3 - 5 p.m. at the
Commons Cafeteria on Vernon Street in Hartford. Students who
contributed and tested recipes for the web game will also be in
"Our goal is to empower children to make healthy eating choices in
the schools," says Thompson, a UConn Cooperative Extension
experience has been that most schools are doing a good job of providing
healthy meals. The harder part is getting kids to choose those meals,
spending their lunch money on potato chips and Gatorade."
"Fueling the Teen Machine" was written as a guidebook for teenagers
but could also be used by classroom teachers, says Shanley. She is
director of the UConn
nutritional sciences department undergraduate dietetics program.
"This is not a textbook," she explains. "We wrote the book so it
would be user-friendly to young people, while addressing contemporary
issues, such as sports
nutrition, eating disorders, weight management and vegetarianism."
A free copy of the book will be given to people attending the open
house and copies will be sent to every teacher of family and consumer
sciences teacher in the
state. The books will also be sold for $12.95 at major bookstore
chains and the UConn Co-op.
The interactive web-based game, "Rate Your Plate," is aimed at
educating a younger audience. Students click on a food image, create
a meal of choice, and the
program determines whether or not healthy choices have been made. This
website also provides other nutrition resources and a variety of
healthy recipes tested in
UConn's food laboratory. Samples of the recipes will be served during
the open house. The website is located at
Shanley and Thompson's work was funded by a $160,000 grant from the
Connecticut State Department of Education and the U.S. Department of
Team Nutrition program.
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