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Local dietitians dish on preschool nutrition in online video series

SIMCOE, SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 – More and more people are searching and accessing health information online and registered dietitians from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit are adapting to the trend by using YouTube to spread their nutrition messages.

A series of sixteen short videos, titled ‘Dietitians Dish,’ has been uploaded to YouTube, and answers the most common nutrition-related questions that are asked by parents of preschool age children. The one to two minute videos cover topics including ways to prevent picky eating, meal planning, whether or not to give your child supplements, which beverages are the best choices for your preschooler and a number of other issues.

Residents can watch the videos by searching “Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit” on www.YouTube.com, and clicking on any of the videos in the Dietitians Dish series. Viewers are also encouraged to post questions or comments, and share the videos with other parents who might benefit from the information.

The familiar pamphlets and fact sheets that have lined the walls of lobbies and waiting rooms for decades are rapidly being replaced by the instant, limitless information accessible on people’s portable devices.
YouTube has gained popularity as one of the preferred places for people to access information, including health information. In fact, YouTube is now the second most popular search engine next to Google.

“A lot of people, including busy parents, now prefer to watch a short video on their smartphone rather than read text from a brochure or book,” explained Michelle Saraiva, Public Health Dietitian with the Health Unit and one of the faces of the video series. “If that’s how people are gathering their information, we want to make sure they can find factual, evidence-based information, but still in a way that is entertaining and easy to digest.”

The videos were filmed at locations throughout Haldimand and Norfolk counties, including No Frills grocery store in Hagersville, VG Meats in Simcoe and Caledonia’s Ontario Early Years Centre.

A recent survey done by the Health Unit found that 75% of preschoolers get less than three servings of vegetables a day and 54% get less than three servings of fruit per day. According to Canada’s Food Guide, children aged three to five should be getting four to five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

“Good nutrition is essential to a child’s growth and development, as well as their ability to learn and concentrate well in school,” noted Laura Tousaw, the other Public Health Dietitian featured in the videos. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of false claims and nutrition myths spread through the internet. We wanted to make videos that will give parents answers they know they can trust.”

Parents concerned about their child’s nutrition habits can contact the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit for a copy of the NutriSTEP® nutrition screening tool for preschoolers. The 17-question survey will inform parents whether their child is at low, moderate or high risk for nutritional issues, and help to identify areas where improvements could be made.

“The earlier healthy nutrition habits are formed, the more likely they are to last a lifetime,” added Tousaw.

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Media contact:
Laura Tousaw
Public Health Dietitian
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3247 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
[email protected]