Nutrition program helps families make informed choices

By Diane Palmer

ChildrenLimited resource families learn information, skills, attitudes and behavior needed to improve their diet through Clemson Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).

“Families learn to make informed choices about low-cost, nutritious foods; to better manage family finances; and to become more self-sufficient,” said Katherine Cason, Clemson nutritionist and coordinator of the USDA-funded program.

Now EFNEP is including education about physical activity, since obesity in adults has grown progressively since 1990, including more than 60% of the state’s adult population. Childhood obesity shows a similar increase.  

The program is also expanding to serve Hispanic families and youth. A team of research and outreach associates, graduate students and staff is already in place with plans to hire three Hispanic lay educators for this increasing population. The state’s Hispanic population has increased 211%, from 30,500 residents in 1990 to 95,076 residents in 2000, and suffers from overweight and obesity at higher than average rates.

“This reality is extracting a heavy toll of physical, emotional and financial costs for Hispanic families,” said Cason. “It also drains state resources through higher medical expenses and lost productivity. Many obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers, are preventable through healthy lifestyles that include proper nutrition and physical activity.”

In 2004, 93% of EFNEP participants showed improvement in one or more nutrition practices; 93% showed improvement in one or more food resource management practices; and 75% showed improvement in one or more food safety practices.

For more information: Katherine Cason, 864-656-0539, or