Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

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Tanya Cochran
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Proviso East High School Nutrition Course Aims to Increase Healthy Lifestyles

CHICAGO, March 25, 2004 Beginning this April, “Cooking with Heart and Soul,” a six-week course sponsored by Proviso East High School-Based Health Center and run by Loyola’s School of Nursing, will once again be offered to Proviso students and their families. The course, designed to help families eat healthier, provides tips on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, stress reduction and effective communication within the family.

“This course is an opportunity for Proviso families to learn how quick and easy it can be to make healthy, low-fat, low-sugar meals without having to resort to the temptation and ease of fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Carolyn Read, health education coordinator for the health center.

Like many schools throughout the nation, inactivity and overweight issues are a serious problem at Proviso, Read acknowledged, with some students identified as “at risk” for being overweight. “This is extremely serious since in 2002, national prevalence of overweight in the general American population was 36 percent,” Read said. “We already have a number of School-Based Health Center overweight patients suffering from hypertension and from Type II Diabetes which were formerly thought to only affect older, overweight adults.”

Participants in the Cooking with Heart and Soul class learn about such issues along with how to improve parent-child relationships by dealing with everyday stressors that families experience. “We describe these classes as an opportunity for busy families, with overscheduled lives and busy work and school schedules, to actually prepare and then sit down and enjoy a meal together as a family,” Read said. “People have been extremely receptive to this and repeatedly tell us how much they enjoy that aspect of the program.”

The nutrition course begins April 13 and will run for six consecutive Tuesdays from 6-8:30 p.m., ending May 18. About 30 participants, including students and their parent/guardians, will take part in the program.
“The Cooking with Heart and Soul program offers a wonderful opportunity for Proviso East High School students and their parents to gather, to learn how to prepare healthy meals, and to also learn the benefits of eating together as a family,” says School of Nursing Dean Sheila Haas. “All of which promotes healthy lifestyles.”

In response to feedback from participants who attended one of the past three nutrition courses, a small exercise portion has been added to the upcoming evening sessions. “This will be somewhat experimental to see whether fitting in a short walking program in or around the school building with the other nutrition and family communication sessions will actually work,” Read said. Participants in this program will all receive pedometers and will be encouraged to walk in their free time. “We will highlight the need for exercise and particularly how walking can easily be incorporated into daily life,” Read said.

The cooking classes are one component of what the school terms its Nutrition Revolution in which it seeks to achieve a “Junk Free Zone.” Students who bring junk food into the health center are asked to replace those items with nutritious alternatives such as raisins, applesauce or yogurt. Westlake Health Foundation has funded the Nutrition Revolution program for three years for a total $75,000, which has allowed the cooking class to be offered to 12 to 15 families twice a year.

“Overall we’ve had a very positive response to the Nutrition Revolution,” Read said. “Of course, this does not mean that all Proviso students have been impacted by the Nutrition Revolution or that students have stopped consuming junk food like candy bars and other unhealthy snacks, but many students who visit the health center are much more aware of the foods they consume.

“We’ve seen an increase in water consumption instead of sugary juice and pop among students visiting the School-Based Health Center. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of students interested in individual sessions with our Loyola dietetic interns who work at the health center every Tuesday each semester.”

The healthy snack option for patients and students at the health center also allows for continuing education regarding healthy eating and weight management. However, neither the Nutrition Revolution nor the Cooking with Heart and Soul class are being marketed as a diet program but rather as a prevention and education program. “We want families and their Proviso students to feel comfortable coming to learn about improving their nutrition and eating habits and to not feel intimidated and stressed about actual weight loss.”

For more information on the Cooking with Heart and Soul course, contact Read at 708.449.9529.
About Loyola University Chicago

Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.

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