Project L.E.A.N. Childhood Obesity Prevention Program Shows Excellent Results at the End of Its Second Year

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Project L.E.A.N. Childhood Obesity Prevention Program Shows Excellent Results at the End of Its Second Year

Pepperidge Farm, Inc., Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Health Department and Jefferson Elementary School Join Forces to Combat Childhood Obesity
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Second Year of Project L.E.A.N. Childhood Obesity Prevention Program Showcases Excellent Results
Friday, June 15, 2012 - 12:00pm

CONTENT: Press Release

(3BL Media) Norwalk, CT - June 15, 2012 - Two hundred second and third graders at Jefferson School are ending the school year on a very healthy note. These students now have a    significantly broader knowledge base about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity. Furthermore, they have made behavioral changes that will improve their long-term health. This is all due to the instruction they received from Project L.E.A.N. (Learning with Energy from Activity and Nutrition), a childhood obesity prevention program being offered at Jefferson School in Norwalk.  The pilot program was started in 2010 through collaboration between Pepperidge Farm, Inc., Norwalk Hospital, Norwalk Department of Health, and Norwalk’s Jefferson Elementary School.

Project L.E.A.N. was designed to improve the overall health of children by teaching them lifelong habits of healthy eating and exercise. The program includes a “breakfast boot camp,” in-school nutrition classes taught by Cindy Sherlock MS, RD, CD-N, a dietician at Norwalk Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition Department, and after school family events.

At the end of the second year, the program results are excellent.  “The students who have gone through the program have demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge about good nutrition which has led to positive behavioral changes,” says Ruthann Walsh, Director, Corporate Citizenship at Pepperidge Farm and one of the program’s organizers. “For example, the vast majority of the children now understand that it is unhealthy to be overweight and furthermore, they can cite specific chronic medical conditions that can arise from being overweight such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The children who have not gone through Project L.E.A.N. are not nearly as aware of these potential health risks. Additionally, Project L.E.A.N. students have dramatically reduced their consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, replacing them with water and milk, they have increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables and they have increased their level of physical activity. Furthermore, the BMI (Body Mass Index) profile of the Project L.E.A.N. students is better than all other classes at Jefferson.”

Project L.E.A.N. stemmed from a desire to combat the national obesity crisis, starting on a local level. National and local statistics reveal a dire need for change:

  • National obesity prevalence among children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the last twenty years. In Connecticut, 15% of low-income preschool children are medically obese; in Fairfield County that percentage increases to 17%.
  • The obesity epidemic causes great health risks to children, including risk of developing chronic diseases such as Type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A balance of physical activity and healthful eating are proven factors in reducing obesity in children and adolescents.

Jefferson Elementary was chosen as a pilot school for the program because it is the largest elementary school in Norwalk, serves the largest minority population (83%) of elementary schools in Norwalk, and has a large population of children who receive free or reduced rate lunches—an indicator of financial need.

“Pepperidge Farm is proud to be one of the founding sponsors of Project L.E.A.N. It’s an innovative approach to combating childhood obesity and could not have gotten off the ground without the partnership between the hospital, school, health department and the business sector,” said Walsh. “In particular, the principal at Jefferson School, John Reynolds, and the teachers deserve much of the credit for this program’s success. From the very beginning, everyone – including the students, teachers, parents and partners – embraced the ‘Project L.E.A.N.’ approach to improve the children’s health.”

Project L.E.A.N. will start up again in the fall at Jefferson School, but in the meantime, the students will be invited to attend three Project L.E.A.N. Summer festivities, keeping everyone in tip-top shape for the fall. 

About Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm, Incorporated, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is a leading provider of premium quality fresh bakery products, cookies, crackers, and frozen foods. The company was named the #1 Place to Work in Connecticut in the large company’s category of the Best Places to Work in Connecticut competition for 2009. Among the company’s most popular products are Sausalito® and Milano® cookies, Goldfish® crackers, Baked Naturals® crackers, frozen Puff  Pastry, frozen garlic loaves and Texas toasts, and more than 50 varieties of fresh baked breads including Pepperidge Farm® Swirl, Farmhouse and Whole Grain. The company recently added Ecce Panis® gourmet artisan breads to its portfolio. Pepperidge Farm was founded in Connecticut in 1937 by Margaret Rudkin, an entrepreneurial homemaker who began baking fresh, all-natural bread for her allergy-afflicted son. The company is now a nationwide business with 9 manufacturing facilities and almost 5,000 employees. Pepperidge Farm has been part of Campbell Soup Company since 1961.

About Cindy Sherlock MS, RD, CD-N

Cindy Sherlock  MS, RD, CD-N, an outpatient dietitian in the Clinical Nutrition Department at Norwalk Hospital, holds a Master of Science in Nutrition and Food Studies from New York University. Cindy joined Norwalk Hospital in 2010 where she provides nutrition counseling to the outpatient population. ­­­­­­­­


Ruthann Walsh
+1 (203) 846-7040
Pepperidge Farm
Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Hunger | Pepperidge Farm | Volunteerism & Community Engagement | childhood hunger | obesity

CONTENT: Press Release