SIMPLE STEPS: The programme aims to teach people how to improve their children’s diets.
Nestlé’s Gerber baby food brand is supporting a new community education programme to help reduce childhood obesity in the US city of Newark.
The pilot initiative aims to teach local people simple ways of improving the diets of infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Led by city mayor Cory Booker’s community organisation Newark Now, it is an attempt to reverse worrying childhood obesity rates that are more than double the national average.
In Newark, 27% of 3 to 5 year olds are classified as dangerously overweight, compared to 10% of 2 to 5 year olds in the United States as a whole.
Watch city mayor Cory Booker’s speech about the programme
Gerber will share its nutritional expertise to help develop an educational ‘curriculum’ for the programme, which will be conducted in community centres around Newark.
Comprised of six sessions, it will be taught by a bilingual public health nutritionist.
The programme covers topics such as how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, healthy snacking, dealing with fussy eaters, portion control and physical activity. It also highlights the importance of breastfeeding.
Tricycles will also be made available for children to use at the centres, to promote activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Empowering local residents
“Parents, grandparents and care givers are seeking information about how to make healthy choices when feeding their little ones,” said Marilyn Knox, President and CEO of Nestlé Infant Nutrition North America.
“At Gerber we are committed to working with Mayor Booker, Newark Now and the city’s network of Family Success Centers to empower residents with knowledge to support obesity prevention in young children through community-based education.”
Working in partnership
Other local community organisations and institutions, including the Newark Youth Policy Board and Rutgers University, are also involved in the programme.
It will be overseen by the newly-formed ‘Newark-Nestlé Nutrition Advisory Board’, made up of local nutrition and public health experts, as well as community members with experience in engaging with local residents.
Gerber’s participation in the programme is part of its ongoing commitment to sharing its nutritional expertise to help reduce childhood obesity in the United States.
The company recently launched a similar educational initiative in the state of Michigan in partnership with the local government.
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