Currently in the United States and Iowa, priority health-related behaviors are lacking for youth and adolescents. This includes distorted eating patterns and mental/emotional health behaviors, lack of physical activity, and high obesity and overweight prevalence.
According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control:
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.
- In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
With the use of research-based and high-quality, youth-focused curriculum and program lessons concentrated on local foods we can improve the health of our country’s future generations, whether it be in an academic or community setting. By utilizing local foods ideals and goals for education, youth will not only learn about modes of food production, but will obtain an understanding of the holistic health that local food production can provide to them and their community.
Through the use of local foods focused programs youth are able to gain awareness and develop the following health behaviors, among others, that will last a lifetime:
- Gardening and food production
- Culinary arts
- Nutrition and physical fitness
- Food science, biology, chemistry, environmental science, etc.
- Environmental health and stewardship
- Personal well-being and health behavior maintenance
- Social justice and equality
Lynn Heuss – Local Foods Team
Tammy Stotts – Iowa Farm to School Coordinator
Teresa Wiemerslage, Northeast Iowa Regional Program Coordinator
Emily Neal, Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness
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