Lose Weight, Feel Great
Working adults from a local textile plant are no longer taking sodas and Little Debbie cakes to eat on their lunch breaks. Their new craving for water, fruits and vegetables, is all due to a few students and Dr. Vivian Haley-Zitlin's desire to address the increase of obesity in adults. She and a team of Clemson students designed a 6-week educational series of 4 classes to help these working adults make better daily choices for meals. Currently, students from psychology and health science participate alongside her nutrition students, and she encourages students from every major to participate. The students found time to cover all three shifts at the textile plant, primarily in the early morning and afternoon, to engage directly with the workers to improve their health education.
At the beginning of the Creative Inquiry project, the team's tasks involved appointing preassessment tests for the adults to measure their height, weight, BMI, body composition and blood pressure. The plant solicited Haley-Zitlin's students to help the workers set their weight loss goals, having identified the adults as a group who wishes to lose weight. Throughout the series of classes, the student team is making sure the adults meet their goals by creating approachable and enjoyable classes. The adults find entertainment in competition with question and answer games at the end of the sessions to win prizes. At the end of the 6-week assessment, the students formulate a post-assessment test to see if any changes in their health have been made. Haley-Zitlin hopes the students have educated the adults by providing them with guidelines to make real life diet changes such as increased fiber, choosing healthy fats and more fruits and vegetables. Haley-Zitlin says, "The most exciting discovery is to see that students can make a difference in people's lives by giving the people the tools they need to learn." She hopes that the students see the value in what they've learned in class and how working in teams ensures that everyone is knowledgeable about what they've learned in class. The experience will help them gain more expertise in putting together what they have learned so that it translates to any audience they plan to address.
Attention has been given to the project on a national level at conferences and on a local level by the wellness coordinator, who provides the Clemson students with feedback on what they've done. Haley-Zitlin says she's received additional phone calls from other work sites asking to bring students to help their workers with their weight loss and healthy eating.
Haley-Zitlin notes that a successful project is seeing the measurable results for adults in their dietary habits and for students in increasing their knowledge of new skills and self-confidence in their ability to educate individuals. Haley- Zitlin is very proud of the Creative Inquiry team, the "Lose Weight, Feel Great" crew, and hopes the take-away for the students will be development of new skills, self-confidence, knowledge on healthy eating, weight management and ultimately, that the project provided preparation for future career roles.