DEMOTTE — Head Start, a preschool program for lower income families, held its fourth parent training from the UCLA Health Literacy Program sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Health Care Institute. The program held at the DeMotte Head Start in the Fase Senior Center, brought preschool parents and their children to a special program Wednesday evening.

Children and parents were given a healthy meal of ham and cheese sandwich on wheat bread, carrots and grapes with a bottle of water to accompany the meal. The program taught parents ways to make healthy meals without spending the higher prices for those healthier choices.

“By delivering this easy to understand, and culturally sensitive training to KIRPC Head Start families, we strive to not only improve children’s health and attendance, but also empower parents to make more informed decisions about their child’s physical health and nutrition,” a release states.

These trainings were held at all the KIRPC Head Start sites in Jasper and Newton County. Following the parent training, the preschool will continue the follow up with the children in a 10-week program. A follow up for the parents will be scheduled during the winter months.

This is the last year of the four-year program on health literacy. Parents followed along with a PowerPoint presentation by the Head Start education director, Monica Kolish and Brandi Hurd, nutrition and transportation manager.

The increase in obesity in children and adults has increased Type 2 diabetes, even in children. In 2016, 39.8% of the US population were obese. In 1970, there were 66 million overweight adults. Today, there are over 140 million with that number climbing. For children, those numbers tripled over the last 40 years. The problem, the program points out, is Americans are eating too much food and a lot of unhealthy foods, plus we don’t get enough exercise.

Sugary drinks, including soda and some fruit juices, can add to a child’s weight gain. In one 12 oz can of Coke, there is the equivalent of 10 sugar cubes, compared to three in an 8 oz glass of milk. Chocolate milk adds four more sugar cubes while plain water has none. Drinking two 12 oz cans of soda a day will increase weight by 5 lbs. if the sugar isn’t burned off through exercise in the form of calories. However, that much sugar adds up to 8,400 calories, which would take 100 miles to walk off.

The UCLA program urges an increase in physical activity as well as healthier eating and drinking habits for all members of the family. Moderate physical activity about 150 minutes per week can be done through walking briskly about 3.5 miles per hour, hiking, dancing, gardening or yard work, light weight training and bicycling at about 10 miles per hour or less.

Aiming for 10,000 steps a day is recommended. By taking 2,000 extra steps a day, a person can burn 100 calories.

In food consumption, the program recommends adding fruit to salads, side dishes, main dishes, desserts and snacks. Whole fruit is better than fruit juices and dried fruit is good when fresh fruit is out of season. All vegetables or 100% vegetable juice should be a big part of a meal. Half of a plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, with a quarter in protein and a quarter in grains, which should be whole grains, like wheat, rice, oats or barley.

Parents were given examples of preparing a food budget that includes making healthy choices at the grocery store. Buying in bulk is cheaper. Growing fruit and vegetables at home is also a great way to save money. An inexpensive breakfast ideas include bananas, in-season fruit, English muffins, whole grain toast, oatmeal or grits, skim milk and yogurt.

Children will be bringing homework home for the family to participate and get healthy together and they’ll be able to try different fruits and vegetables they may not have eaten before.