East Bay program teaches kids about nutrition


"I want to lose weight by eating healthy and exercising every day," program paticipant Brenda Morales said.

It's all part of a program in Contra Costa County called NEW -- which stands for Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness.

"We teach them about different groups of food, physical activity and the balance between what we eat and the activity that we do," instructor Ana Villalobos said.

In Contra Costa County, one in four 5th graders is overweight or obese; a condition that can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.

At the program, the kids learn about the food groups, reading labels and about how to plan and cook a healthy meal.

The program is about kids, but not just for them. Each child brings along a parent or guardian, because changing behaviors can't be done by a child alone.

"If you just do it yourself, or you just have them do it their selves, they won't do it. You should do it together and do it as a family," parent Ivett Cardona said.

Yadira Valencia brought four young members of her family.

"I want them to get an education as well as myself on what I can give them to eat, because I don't want them to be growing up with diabetes, cholesterol," she said. "Just a better life for them."

At the start of the six-week program, each child is weighed and again, at the end.

In six weeks, 12-year-old Adrian Cortes lost eight pounds.

"By eating vegetables and fruits and stop eating fats," he said.

Adrian hopes to keep that weight off, while maintaining good health. Even the youngest at the program are getting the message.

"I've changed my diet, like I don't go too much to the fast food, and when I do, I shoot for more like the healthy choices," program participant Brenda Valencia said.

"Kids who have healthy eating habits and physical activity habits early on will tend to carry that on throughout life," program manager Andrea Menefee said.

So whatever the scale says on a given day, these kids know what they learn at the program can help keep them healthy for a very long time.

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