Storms Didn’t Dampen the High Spirits—or Attendance—at Atlanta Health Expo
Posted May 12, 2011
Despite storms and bad weather forcing the activities indoors, the 6th Annual Children’s Nutrition Education & Physical Activity Expo was still the largest gathering of childhood obesity prevention activists and others held by the Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully, Inc. (C.H.O.I.C.E.S.). More than 600 people attended the March 26 event in Atlanta, Georgia.
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. is a parent and child resource center that targets overweight and obese populations in Atlanta by partnering with schools, parks and recreation departments, and other local organizations. A We Can!® community site, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. was instrumental in convincing Atlanta’s mayor to make it a We Can! City; the official announcement came on March 27, 2010, at the 5th annual Expo.
“If we all work on preventative measures together, we will witness a reduction in the number of clinically obese,” said Kenya Heard, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Program Director.
Heard reports that hundreds of families came from across Atlanta’s six counties to view and participate in the Expo’s multiple interactive exhibits about nutrition and physical activity. The We Can! exhibit, the focus of which was the Go, Slow, Whoa chart (136 KB) (a We Can! tip sheet developed to help people recognize which foods are the smartest choices), was particularly popular.
“Go, Slow, Whoa is great because you immediately learn from it,” said Heard. “We created a matching game based on it where participants sort foods into each category. Students usually get less than 50% correct. They excel at identifying ‘Whoa foods,’ but see ‘Slow foods’ and ‘Go foods’ as being in the same category. After we talk about nutrition to them, they begin to see the difference.”
Heard and her colleagues discovered that while people generally understand the order of foods in the Go, Slow, Whoa chart, there’s a great deal of nutrition-specific information they are missing.
“We need to hold people’s feet to the fire, and get them to really look at the Nutrition Facts food label,” she said.
In Atlanta, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. is teaching the community that a “Go” food becomes a “Slow” food when certain things are added to it. For instance, many orange juices have added sugar, which transforms the juice from an anytime food to a sometimes food.
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. also is preparing for a slew of upcoming obesity prevention events, including:
- Working with Atlanta schools to offer the We Can! Parent Program through the Georgia Parent Teacher Association
- Celebrating National Parks Day on May 21 by using We Can! physical activity resources and hosting a Walk 10,000 5K through a park, featuring nutritional facts along the way
“The need consistently remains high, but we hope as years go by, we may not be so needed. Until this changes, we will continue to do our best,” said Heard.