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USDA to Hold Nutrition Survey for 5th Graders at Sherwood Library

$25 Target Gift Card to be given to participants for sharing barriers to healthy eating

This Saturday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a survey of fifth-graders, and the parent or caregiver to learn more about the eating habits of children and adults. The survey will be held at , 2501 Sherwood Hall Lane. The survey is open to residents of the D.C. metro area.

What: USDA Nutrition Survey

Where: Sherwood Regional Library

When, Saturday, December 10, 12:30 PM

Who: 5th graders and their parent or caregiver

How to sign up: Email Grace Ha, Grace.Ha@ars.usda.gov or call 301-504-6052

Currently, only 5 percent of Americans follow the USDA’s recommended dietary recommendations, despite the agency’s move to simplify and clarify the guidelines with the MyPlate program released earlier this year. That figure prompted agency officials to learn more about the obstacles facing Americans in their food choices. The survey is designed to identify the factors that stand in the way of a more healthful diet and how Americans can gain access to more nutritious foods.

The survey also hopes to gain insight into the USDA-run national school lunch program and how the agency can help provide public school students with more nutritious and wholesome foods in school cafeterias.

The surveys are completely anonymous and will be kept confidential. The height and weight of participants will be measured. Both the student AND his/her parent or caregiver must take the survey together. As an incentive, USDA will provide a $25 gift card to each participant ($50 per family).

The survey is Phase 2 of the HEALTH study that began four years ago out of USDA’s Houston office under director Theresa Nichols. In Phase 1, focus groups were conducted with fifth-graders and their parent/caregiver in which they were asked questions about their eating habits, food preferences and level of physical activity. The current survey was created based on the responses from those focus groups which wound up a year ago.

Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics and International Health at Johns Hopkins University is the principal investigator of the study for the USDA site in Beltsville, the group who will head up the surveys locally. Natalia Schroeder, PhD, RD, Post Doctoral Research Associate with USDA, will head up the survey here in Alexandria. Surveys will be conducted at several other D.C and Maryland-area sites, but Sherwood will be the only site in all Virginia. USDA hopes to collect over 1200 samples throughout the U.S. and have preliminary data results by late spring 2012.

For more information on how to participate, contact Grace Ha, Grace.Ha@ars.usda.gov or call 301-504-6052.

Mary Porter is a nutrition educator and counselor living in the Fort Hunt area. Her company, A Better Plate, works with corporations and individuals. You can email her at mary@betterplate.com

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