Healthy Eating Initiative
We developed a comprehensive initiative to support healthy eating messages given to the families in the clinic by pediatricians who continue to see an increase in childhood obesity, particularly amongst Latinos. This program was developed with the help of a 2010 United Hospital Fund Grant.
We are happy to share the ideas and materials thus developed in support of our Healthy Eating Initiative, which may be adapted to meet the needs of your program. For materials we have created, we appreciate being credited as “Children of Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read Program.”
4 Initiative Components
Healthy Eating Farmers Market
The Healthy Eating Farmers Market is designed to develop a replicable model for integrating healthy eating concepts into a pediatric setting. Once a week, fresh produce from a local farmers market is displayed along with plain language healthy eating materials on a table in the main pediatric waiting room. Volunteers and staff engage parents and children in discussions that are guided by core obesity prevention concepts and driven by the family’s interest and experience.
Initially, our program included multilingual tours of the Bellevue Farmer’s Market for families when they finished their appointments with their pediatrician. When this market was not renewed for the 2011 season, we continued to use the fresh produce from an off-site farmer’s market in order to underscore that this model could be successful for programs that do not have markets at their hospitals or clinics.
Volunteer Reader Healthy Eating
Volunteer readers in Reach Out and Read programs transform clinic waiting rooms into literacy-rich areas for children and parents, and help families learn the joys and techniques of reading aloud. One way to make reading an engaging activity for children and to encourage language development is to elicit conversations about the book by asking the children questions or responding to their questions and comments (Dialogic Reading). For this initiative, volunteer readers are given special training for using children’s books that contain discussion points regarding healthy eating. We have developed dialogic reading questions for 7 children’s books along with simple take away messages
Parent Educator Program
Guidance and materials given to parents regarding nutrition has tremendous potential to improve their children’s health. We have compiled health-related content, such as simple ideas for making better nutritional choices, to be used during the counseling of parents of young children by Reach Out and Read educators. This occurs in addition to ongoing literacy and language counseling.
Pediatricians Give Books With Food Themes
As part of Reach Out and Read, pediatricians give parents age appropriate advice about the importance of reading aloud and give children a new book to take home at every check-up, from six months to five years of age. On Market Day, special food themed books are often given along with routine literacy and obesity prevention counseling.