Friday, September 06, 2013

Fifth Graders at Dadeville and Liberal Elementary Schools “Step It Up” With Pedometers

Dr. Lydia Kaume, nutrition and health education specialist
Tel: (417) 682-3579

LAMAR, Mo. -- This school year, fifth grade students at the Liberal and Dadeville Elementary Schools are kicking off the year with a low-cost school-based program known as “Jump Into Action.”

The “Jump Into Action” program was developed by Dr. Stephen Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri and Ann Cohen, a nutrition specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Jump Into Action” is a team-taught, school-based program to help fifth grade students make healthy food choices and be more physically active. Since its initiation in 2004, the program has reached 50,000 students in Missouri.

Students that participate in the program learn how food choices can help them grow, the importance of drinking more milk and less soda or sweetened drinks, the need for five or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day, how to read food labels, the connection between physical activity and healthy weight, how to use a pedometer to measure activity, and ideas for trading screen time for 60 minutes of physical activity every day.


A University of Missouri study showed that fifth grade students that have participated in the program demonstrate increases in knowledge of healthy behaviors, increased confidence in making healthy choices and increases in physical activity. In addition, the program has resulted in decreases in time spent watching TV or playing video games, decreases in consumption of sugar-added drinks, and increased consumption of milk, fruits, and vegetables.

“Starting the program early in the school year increases exposure to the program to maximize students’ behavior change,” said Dr. Lydia Kaume, a nutrition and health education specialist with MU Extension in southwest Missouri.
“Jump Into Action,” begins by training teachers and creating support teams of adults. Then kids learn to use a personal pedometer.


Soon, students begin comparing their pedometer readings against goals they set for themselves or against the teacher. Throughout the class day, activity breaks help students pay more attention and do better academically.

The program uses an integrated approach and is designed to be used throughout the fifth-grade year involving, the physical education teacher, classroom teacher and parents.

“While the PE teacher uses physical activity lessons and pedometers to help students increase physical activity time, the classroom teacher integrates nutrition lessons to help students help students set goals to improve their food choices, and parents provide support for students as they examine their physical activity and eating behaviors,” said Dr. Kaume.

Lessons are bolstered by monthly checkups, and parent newsletters to ensure students are compressively supported according to Dr. Kaume. Together this team encourages students to be more physically active and make food choices for a healthy weight.

Learn more about “Jump Into Action” at

For more information on nutrition, go online to or contact one of the nutrition and health specialists working in the Ozarks: Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545 


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