Central Florida children are planting the seeds for lifelong healthy habits through fun cooking and gardening workshops

Planting Seeds of Hope and Whole Health in Our Communities

Fla., ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 8, 2018 — Priann Franco, 15, went to the doctor for her physical and was surprised to learn she was borderline diabetic, as well as considered medically obese.

Instead of simply sending her home with pointers on portion control, Priann’s doctor referred her to an innovative program that combines gardening, cooking and a multidisciplinary team of pediatric obesity experts at Florida Hospital for Children.

Since April, Priann has been a part of the Healthy Weight and Wellness program, which teaches children how to manage weight and improve self-esteem by shifting the family’s lifestyle, not just the child’s. The tools she has implemented have helped her lose four inches around her waist in just a month.

“When the doctor told me I was close to having diabetes, I decided I didn’t want that for my life – so I changed it,” said Priann. “This program has made me come out of my shell, and I feel better because I understand my body more.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected by obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. That means that nearly 1 in 5 school-age children and teenagers is obese today.

“When you teach children how to eat healthy from a young age, it helps to prevent chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even liver disease, which is something we didn’t used to see in children,” said Dr. Angela Fals, medical director of the Pediatric Weight and Wellness Program at Florida Hospital for Children. “This is a way of prevention. It’s a way to help this generation and the next to prevent chronic diseases.”

The program takes a novel approach by combining hands-on gardening and cooking workshops for the entire family at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House and Culinary Garden with clinical visits that manage the physical and mental health of the children. The program also teaches the parents these lessons, so the entire family feels confident to make lifestyle changes at home.

“It’s fun for me too because we do it together, and I’m able to see she is learning to have a healthy life,” said Indira Brown, Priann’s mom. “I’m proud because I see her doing this in the future and heaving the live she wants.”.

To learn more about the Healthy Weight and Wellness Program, please visit http://www.centerforchildandfamilywellness.com/