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WVU Extension Service Program Promotes Healthy Eating for Families

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Childhood obesity is a rising concern in our state, but West Virginia University's Extension Services is helping to make kids' healthy eating a family affair.

"Choose to Change" is an early childhood obesity prevention program that encourages kids to eat well while spending quality time with their families at the dinner table.

No matter what a child's favorite food may be, bringing the family together during meals can be extremely beneficial for everyone.

That's the message WVU's Extension Service shared with parents on Tuesday night.

"Families that eat together eat better, they tend to have more fruits and vegetables in their diet, more fiber...they drink more milk," said Elaine Bowen, an extension specialist of health promotion.

Eric Murphy is the Monongalia County Extension Agent for the grant-funded project. Murphy has two kids at Brookhaven Elementary School.

Murphy said that if kids develop healthy eating habits at an early age, it benefits the community as a whole, but it's not always easy at home.

"I would tell you, it is a challenge, but what we found is if we're gonna talk the talk, we've got to walk the walk. Eating meals together is probably the most time a family spends together," said Murphy.

Kids also made a promise to "Rethink Your Drink," a Choose to Change initiative that promotes drinking water or lowfat milk instead of juice or soda.

"Imagine that 20 ounce soda that you usually drink. Eliminating that eliminates 50 pounds of sugar a year. So why not?" said Murphy.

Other goals include:

-No electronics while eating

-Helping in the kitchen

-And listening to others while having positive conversation

"From families just getting around the table, and having eye-to-eye contact, and real conversations....and that doesn't happen unless you make it happen," said Bowen.

"We're getting them to rethink what they're doing, and it goes right back to that lifestyle change. It's just about a lifestyle change," said Murphy.

The extension service will host another event at Mountainview Elementary this Thursday to help educate even more families in our area