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Nutrition Student Kristen Kochenour Teaches Bahamian Kids to Lead Healthy Lifestyles

August 14, 2013

kristen kochenourKristen Kochenour, a second year student in the Master’s Program in Human Nutrition, taught a six day camp about healthy lifestyles in The Bahamas to a group of fifty 5-12 year-old children this summer.

The healthy lifestyles camp was run through one of the elementary schools in Freeport, Bahamas and was free for all children in attendance. The goal of the camp was to educate the children about healthy lifestyles so that they can start teaching their parents and other family members about how to eat well and have healthy habits.

According to Kochenour, 70% of the population in The Bahamas is obese and diabetes is common among the Bahamians.

“I really didn’t realize that obesity was such a problem down there,” she said. “I thought that they would have access to all these fresh fruits and vegetables. But culturally, the way they prepare food leads to a very unhealthy lifestyle.”

How to prepare food was one of the lessons that Kochenour taught at camp every day. For every lunch and snack, the instructors had the kids make their own meals. This taught them how to control portion sizes and measure out foods, something that many of the children had never done before.Bahamian Kids cooking

Kochenour focused on teaching the students about My Plate, and about how their meals should look every day. She also wanted the students to “rethink their drinks.” She showed the students how they could still get the juice they love but with significantly less sugar by filling up their water bottles with 3/4 water and the rest with juice.

“The overall goal of the camp was for the kids to realize that they can make decisions to lead a healthy lifestyle and that they can obtain goals,” she said. Kochenour wanted to build the children’s self-esteem and knowledge.

Seeing the children’s faces when they tried new healthy foods was one of the most rewarding parts of the camp, Kochenour said.

“At the end, they wrote their favorite things about the camp and almost all of them said they loved the food and making their own food and for me that was the most rewarding part,” she said.

Kochenour’s advisor, Nutrition Sciences Department professor Nyree Dardarian, introduced Kochenour to her cousin, who started a healthy lifestyles camp in Freeport. The food for the camp was donated by local grocery stores and free transportation for the students was also provided.