Healthy Cuisine Made Fun for Kids in C.W. Post Professor’s ‘Cooking Up Energy’ Class at Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club
Thirty-five youths 10-16 cook after school, part of C.W. Post study of whether healthy messages and instruction lead to better decisions at home& supermarket
Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
C.W. Post Campus,
Long Island University
Brookville, N.Y. – In chef's hats and aprons, 35 enthusiastic youths at the Glen Cove Boys and Girls Club spend their Wednesdays after school cooking whole wheat pasta and fresh fruit salad with yogurt honey dressing, as part of a study by a nutrition professor at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University of how to change eating habits and battle obesity.
While the kids are having fun chopping, cooking and tasting under the guidance of C.W. Post nutrition students, they're also absorbing messages about shopping for fresh food with more nutrients and fiber and less sugar, salt and fat, said Dr. Kathy Isoldi, assistant professor of nutrition at C.W. Post. They are also subjects in a formal academic study that will examine whether programs like this lead to long-term improvements in diet.
Isoldi hopes the "Cooking Up Energy" program will trim the youth's waistlines (measured at the outset as part of the study) and make them advocates for better decisions at the supermarket and in their families' kitchens.
"Cooking is very chic right now," Isoldi said. "We have 'Top Chef' and 'Iron Chef' and the Food Network – and yet, ironically, there's a decrease in cooking at home. This kind of education can give kids skills that keep them healthy by making good food choices for a lifetime."
Since 1980, obesity in children and teens ages 6-19 has tripled to nearly 17 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. First Lady Michelle Obama has called childhood obesity a public health crisis and made it a priority to improve childhood fitness and nutrition.
"Cooking Up Energy" also is an ideal workshop for C.W. Post nutrition students. One graduate student and four undergrads help Isoldi lead the 90-minute cooking, tasting and clean-up sessions.
"I feel like I have a dream team of students with me – they are just fabulous with the kids," she said. "By each of them taking a table of seven kids and being responsible for them and showing them what to do and prompting the discussion, they get real hands-on experience in how to communicate nutrition messages."
Antoinette Edmonston, teen program coordinator at the Glen Cove Boys and Girls Club, said "Cooking Up Energy" has become an after-school favorite at the club.
"The kids have a wonderful time, and it's something they really look forward to" she said. "They're taking these messages to heart and really learning to appreciate good, healthy food."
Isoldi is also the coordinator of clinical nutrition services at the Comprehensive Weight Control Program, affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital. She has been an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, a nutrition consultant for the ABC Television network and coordinator of nutrition services at New York Presbyterian.
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