Providing a Healthy Start for all Texas children
A Texas State University nutrition researcher is working on innovative ways to make sure all Texas children have a chance to thrive.
While we know that eating healthy — more veggies, less sugar — is great for combating things like childhood obesity and diabetes, there may be other positive outcomes to improving children’s nutrition, says Lesli Biediger-Friedman, associate professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Texas State.
“One of the things we’re looking at is how proper nutrition impacts things like the development of healthy behaviors and getting children kindergarten ready,” she said.
Biediger-Friedman works closely with San Marcos area Head Start and preschools, public health workers, and parents to determine how big of a role nutrition plays in early childhood development and to get families to be more proactive about their food choices.
Education is only part of the challenge, however. In lower income families or rural populations, simply finding convenient, affordable healthy food options can be difficult.
“You can eat healthy on a tight budget,” she said. “We can provide education, support, and resources to help families make healthier meals at home.”
Biediger-Friedman is currently working with Texas WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) to develop new technology, like interactive websites, apps, and features to help parents access WIC resources via smartphone.
Most of her research and outreach projects have an element of interdisciplinary collaboration, which she says is essential for any realistic strategy to solve food security issues.
“We need people looking at solutions from innovative perspectives or researching how best to communicate our messages or approaching food insecurity from a caregiver’s viewpoint,” she said. “Support from the Texas State community makes it easy to build those partnerships.”
Texans are food insecure.
Texas children go hungry
due to food insecurity.
Source: Feeding Texas, a nonprofit statewide network for food banks.