The rising numbers of overweight and obese children continues to be a serious health concern.  To help California third-graders build skills to improve eating habits that will support lifelong health and a healthy weight, Dairy Council of California is launching a nutrition education program that will arrive in classrooms this fall.

Called Shaping Up My Choices, the program joins Dairy Council’s family of programs tailored for students in preschool through high school as well as a series of adult programs. All of the council’s programs are designed to help individuals improve health and develop positive eating habits while learning the value of consuming milk and milk products on a daily basis.

 “Through Shaping Up My Choices, students will expand their nutritional knowledge while they learn a host of skills that will help build a strong foundation for lifelong wellness,” said Peggy Biltz, Dairy Council of California CEO.

Skills students will learn through the program include how to use the MyPyramid Food Group system, the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, and how to choose healthy snacks and beverages that include milk and milk products.  Other lessons include understanding the importance of individual nutrients like calcium and protein, serving size identification, food label reading and ways to get more exercise.

“With Shaping Up My Choices, we have incorporated the most effective features of all of our other classroom programs into a bright, colorful and engaging package that students will enjoy and teachers will find easy to teach,” said Biltz.

As with all of its nutrition education programs, Dairy Council conducted extensive preliminary testing before gearing up for the launch.  According to the organization, early teacher responses have been positive.

“Teachers tell us their students are talking about what they learned outside the classroom, like analyzing the foods they eat at lunch in the cafeteria,” said Biltz.  “Getting kids to talk about their food in the context of good health is a huge step in the right direction.”

Offered in Spanish and English, Shaping Up My Choices is expected to reach up to 200,000 California third graders during the 2010-2011 school year. The program also meets educational requirements by aligning with California state math, language arts, science and health standards, and the lessons include a take-home family homework component to engage parents in the learning process.

Shaping Up My Choices is a good example of how the dairy industry is committed to being a part of the solution to the obesity epidemic,” said Biltz.  “By using the right educational approach, we can help individuals learn to make healthy food choices, which include selections from milk and milk products.” 

Dairy Council will continue to formally evaluate the program throughout the school year.  For more information on the program or to help your local school learn about Dairy Council of California’s family of nutrition education programs, visit

Source: Dairy Council of California