It can be a daunting task to educate children and teens about healthy eating choices and to instill in them new and lasting healthy eating habits. So a new Nutrition Education Model has been developed; a model that is fun and easy to explain, and catchy enough to stick!
Through a combined effort, a research team working with a program called CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) developed GO, SLOW, WHOA as a simple method to help children and their families choose healthier food options every day.
GO > SLOW > WHOA = More Healthful Diet
In a nutshell, this nutrition model color codes foods using the familiar scheme of the traffic light and categorizes them as GO, SLOW, or WHOA foods. It educates kids and their families about the various types of foods, and encourages them to choose more GO foods than SLOW foods, and more SLOW foods than WHOA foods.
GO foods are commonly described as “whole foods”, meaning that they’re generally the least processed and are the lowest in salt (sodium), added sugars and/or unhealthy fats. Examples of GO foods may be: fresh fruits and vegetables and whole-grain foods.
SLOW foods are in between GO and WHOA foods and include sweetened (including flavored) 1% milk, refined-grain foods and fruit with added sugar.
WHOA foods are generally the most processed and are highest in unhealthy fats, added sugars, and/or salt. These include candy, cookies, chips, fast food, fried foods, ice cream, soft drinks and sugary cereals.
GO, SLOW, WHOA comes to Broward County, FL
The GO, SLOW, WHOA Method has been adopted by many organizations across the nation. In Broward County, TOUCH (Transforming Our Community’s Health) and YMCA of Broward County have partnered to provide Nutrition and Physical Activity Education as part of the Summer BreakSpot Program.
This 9-week initiative, funded by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County and the Community Foundation of Broward, maximizes the reach of the Federal Summer Food Service Program administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
As part of the Summer BreakSpot Pilot Program, up to 500 Children ages 18 and under will be receiving lunch and a snack five days a week at four Broward County Housing Authority sites, sponsored by Broward Meals on Wheels.
YMCA of Broward County has utilized the GO, SLOW, WHOA method in teaching these children about healthy nutrition. The children’s response has been extremely positive and resulted in very high levels of engagement, enthusiasm and participation from the kids.
The “Good Neighbor Store” Initiative
Prior to the Summer BreakSpot program, TOUCH Broward partnered with YMCA of Broward County and FHEED, LLC for an innovative initiative called “Good Neighbor Store” in which the GO, SLOW, WHOA method was also used.
The program included two different classes of students from local schools (Blanche Ely High School and Lauderhill 6-12 Grade School) and targeted “Corner Stores” surrounding these schools with the goal of making healthy food choices at these stores more accessible to shoppers.
The process started with educating the students about GO, SLOW and WHOA foods. With the storeowner’s permission, the students then proceeded to map out all the items in the store isles and floor using green, yellow and red dots to label items according to each food category. Lastly, the students analyzed the placement of GO, SLOW and WHOA foods within the store, discovered and discussed patterns and possible changes, and ultimately suggested a revised floor layout to make healthier food more accessible to shoppers.
The students’ engagement and enthusiasm for the work they were doing was very rewarding, and the depth and quality of their analyses and recommendations were inspiring!
As a result of the project participants stated that during breakfast and lunch at school they would eagerly patrol other friends’ eating choices and educate them about the GO, SLOW, WHOA food groups and nutrition method!
For more information and resources about GO, SLOW and WHOA please review the links below.
The Eat Smart Broward Initiative
TOUCH and our Partners continue implement innovative programs to transform our community’s health. As part of our new CDC funded PICH Grant, we are getting ready to launch an ambitious initiative called Eat Smart Broward in partnership with local food establishments, businesses and County organizations to inform and educate the residents of Broward county of healthy menu items available at local restaurants, worksite and school cafeterias and other food establishments. Stay tuned for more information on the Eat Smart Broward Initiative!
Resources and Information about GO, SLOW, WHOA!
- GO, SLOW, WHOA Food Chart Poster
- National Institute of Health GO, SLOW, WHOA Flashcards
- CATCH Program information and resources
GO, SLOW, WHOA logo source: YVSC.org
GO, SlOW, WHOA Food Groups image source: http://www.he.k-state.edu/