|Reviewers Comments: ||Healthy Lifestyles is a training program targeted for teachers, childcare staff, foodservice professionals, parents, health educators and physical education professionals. Made up of five distinct modules, the program is designed to teach basic nutrition facts and behavior change techniques that educators and other professionals can use to instruct their students. It is based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, and all module components are available online.
Each of the modules in the Healthy Lifestyles program includes an overview, an icebreaker activity, a PowerPoint presentation with accompanying script, handouts, activities, a summary, an evaluation, and a certificate of completion for participants. The overview includes all the basic information one needs to conduct the training, which is especially helpful for new facilitators who have never conducted a training session before. Additional resources and training tips are also provided, including classroom resources that can be used to apply skills and concepts from the training modules for Pre-K to Grade12 classrooms, school food service programs and childcare facilities. Many of the additional resources come from the Colorado Nutrition Literacy Toolkit, http://www.cde.state.co.us/nltk/. Resources are broken down for different ages and grade levels.
The modules are designed to last one to two hours each and can be used independently or together as a part of a half or full day training. If using together in a series, the facilitator may want to eliminate duplicate slides appearing in more than one module. The suggested optimal group size for trainings is 10 to 25 individuals. While the training can be given to more or less participants, activities may need to be modified. Modules can be used as presented or be combined with other training activities.
Each module focuses on a specific topic, including weight management, physical activity, food groups, and carbohydrates. Information covered is varied, and includes nutrient density, eating out, modeling healthy eating for children, and how to encourage children to try new foods. It is important to review the script beforehand, as it includes several reference studies within it that are for the facilitator’s benefit only. Because the script provided is provided word for word, facilitators may be tempted to read it directly, however, they will appear much more genuine and interesting if they speak naturally. The script uses empowerment messages to help educators feel confident in their skills to help their students set and reach nutrition goals. The script and the PowerPoint slides refer to several government nutrition tools, including MyPyramid, the DASH diet, and the Portion Distortion slideshow from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Several fun and engaging activities for each module help enforce the messages in the PowerPoint and the script. Tastings and role playing activities are enjoyable ways to inspire educators. The handout “100 ways to burn 100 calories” is very motivating, and includes specific activities related to the household, family, individuals, and teams. Some of the activities involve calculations, including the BMI calculations, and may be confusing for some. Additional time may need to be spent on these activities. The food labels in Activity 3 of Module 1 do not include trans fat. Facilitators may want to supplement this activity with a discussion of trans fat, which is not covered in the script.
While information is generally accurate, there are places it is erroneous or inconsistent. Couscous is listed as a whole grain is several places. Couscous is not a whole grain, although whole grain couscous is available. In the first module, it states that ¾ cup of juice is equivalent to ½ cup of fruit. As stated by MyPyramid, ½ cup of 100% juice is equivalent to ½ cup of fruit. Module 1, slide 24, states there is 9 tsp of sugar is one 12 oz. can of soda and there are 5 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. Module 5, slide 20 states there is 10 tsp of sugar in a 12 oz can of soda. The Sugar, Sugar Everywhere activity in Module 5 states that 1 sugar cube equals 4 grams of sugar and a soft drink (12 ounces) has 40 grams of added sugar, equivalent to 10 sugar cubes. This can be confusing for educators. The amount of sugar in a teaspoon is closer to 4 grams, and the size of a sugar cube can vary.