Healthy Children Healthy Families

Family_cooking250x250The Healthy Children, Healthy Families: Parents Making a Difference! (HCHF) curriculum was developed by FNEC to support parents and caregivers by providing education on nutrition, physical activity, and parenting practices that help families make healthy changes. The workshops emphasize group discussion, skill building and goal setting to facilitate small steps toward healthy eating and physical activity habits. These steps include strategies to change the home environment and to work with others to make healthy choices easier in places where children live, learn and play.

The Healthy Children, Healthy Families: Parents Making a Difference! curriculum focuses on the behaviors most likely to help children avoid unhealthy weight gain. These evidence-based paths to success include: drinking water or milk instead of sweetened beverages; eating more vegetables and fruits; playing actively; eating fewer high-fat and high-sugar foods; limiting screen time, and sensible serving sizes.

The program also engages participants in learning parenting strategies to increase their positive influence on children’s choices, involving these Keys to Success:

  • Showing (teaching by example)
  • Supporting (helping children feel good about themselves)
  • Guiding (offering choices within limits), and
  • Shaping (changing environments to make healthy choices easier)

Through partner agencies, HCHF reaches low-income parents and caregivers of children aged 3-11 years. Small groups attend a series of 8 hands-on workshops where they meet other parents, prepare recipes, taste new foods, and try fun activities to do at home with children. Each week, participants identify a new healthy step to try with their families and then discuss their challenges and successes. Over time, these steps become healthy habits for parents and children.

Participants report significantly improved food, activity and parenting behaviors at the end of the workshop series. The greatest improvements are in soda intake; frequency of consuming low-fat dairy, vegetables and fruit; letting children decide how much to eat; child physical activity; and the availability of fruit vs. non-nutritious snack foods at home.

To learn more: contact Tisa Fontaine Hill, MPH, Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University.