Our nation is in the midst of a health crisis. In July of 2003, the Surgeon General of the United States, Richard Carmona, addressed a Congressional Committee about the status of our nation's health and said the following, "As Surgeon General, I welcome this chance to talk with you about a health crisis affecting every state, every city, every community, and every school across our great nation. The crisis is obesity. It's the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And it's completely preventable."
Unfortunately, this epidemic has only gotten worse since then.
In his speech, Surgeon General Carmona cited three areas that must be addressed in order to improve our children's health:
- Increased physical activity
- Healthier eating habits
- Improved health literacy
Zest Quest® effectively addresses the three areas of need cited by Surgeon General Carmona. Zest Quest will provide educational programs that increase the likelihood that people will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Food Guidance System (MyPyramid.gov). We will focus on women and children/youth as recommended in the SNAP Guiding Principles document "...education has the greatest potential impact on the nutrition-related behaviors of the overall food stamp population when it targets women and children in food stamp eligible households."
Zest Quest and other components of Clemson University's SNAP-ed will focus on the following behavior outcomes:
- Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat or low-fat milk or milk products every day.
- Be physically active every day as part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Balance calorie intake from foods and beverages with calories expended.
The education provided will consist of a set of learning experiences designed to facilitate the voluntary adoption of eating and other nutrition-related behaviors conducive to health and well being for those on a limited budget. The program will emphasize how participants can efficiently utilize their food resources, including SNAP benefits and as appropriate other FNS nutrition assistance programs, to facilitate consistent access to nutritious foods. The programs will incorporate these general education features:
- Behavior-focused messages
- Use of motivators and reinforcements that are personally relevant to the target audience
- Use of multiple channels of communication to convey messages
- Approaches that provide for active personal engagement
- Intensity/duration that provides the opportunity for multiple exposures to the message
- Outcome evaluation