AUBURN, Ala.— A group of anime characters, the Body Quest Warriors, are leading the fight to prevent childhood obesity. For the past seven years, thousands of third graders across Alabama have taken charge of their health by participating in Alabama Extension’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed) obesity prevention initiative Body Quest: Food of the Warrior.
The innovative youth initiative brings technology as well as healthy snacks into low-income schools. The 15-week program empowers youth to make better food and drink choices and also be more physically active. The Body Quest curriculum includes a blended approach of educator-led classroom instruction, iPad app education, vegetable tastings and also physical activity.
“Body Quest empowers students to make healthy choices and also equips parents to make positive changes in the home,” said Katie Funderburk, an Alabama Extension specialist with SNAP-Ed. “Parents today are busier than ever. The program makes it easy and fun for parents to learn and to also make healthier choices alongside their children.”
Body Quest Makes A Difference
Body Quest successfully increases student fruit and also vegetable consumption in schools with a high percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunches. The program reached 56 Alabama counties, 112 schools and 352 classes in the 2016–2017 school year.
Third graders made positive behavior changes in four identified obesity prevention predictors as a result of Body Quest:
- Increased fruit and vegetable consumption through the National School Lunch Program.
- Decreased sugary beverage consumption
- Increased physical activity
- Decreased television time
Body Quest Reaches Parents
Parents are the gatekeepers of good nutrition in the home. Shopping and meal preparation behaviors have a major impact on availability of healthy foods for children. Body Quest provides parents with healthy recipes. It also incorporates a texting component to engage parents and encourage them to make positive changes in personal eating, shopping and physical activity. In addition, it provides tips for improving the home food environment for children. Parents receive text messages with nutrition information, tips and action prompts three times a week. Texting has proven to be a successful method of reaching and engaging parents.
- 74 percent of Body Quest parents ate more vegetables.
- 89 percent of parents have been asked by their children to buy more vegetables.
- 80 percent of parents noticed their children eating more vegetables.
- 82 percent of parents cut back on sugary drinks.
- 81 percent of parents engaged in more physical activity with their children.
The Body Quest: Food of the Warrior initiative has won national awards. It also has been recognized through publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals for its classroom curriculum and parent text messaging component.
For more information about Body Quest, visit: http://livewell.aces.edu/category/schools/.