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Switch What You Do, View, and Chew

A unique concept combining nutrition with improving play and exercise opportunities for children recently earned recognition from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

S.W.I.T.C.H. was selected to receive the Community Leadership Award, which is given annually to individuals and organizations who improve the lives of individuals within their community by providing or enhancing opportunities to engage in sports, physical activities, fitness or nutrition-related programs.

Switch What You Do, View, and Chew is a community and family-based program designed to encourage 8 to 10 year-old children to change three critical health behaviors, all of which are proven risk factors for childhood obesity. The program aims to increase children’s physical activity (“Switch What You Do”), decrease their screen time (“Switch What You View”), and increase their fruit and vegetable consumption (“Switch What You Chew”). Initially developed and tested by the National Institute on Media and the Family in Cedar Rapids, IA, it is now currently housed in the Search Institute of Minneapolis, MN.

Over four years, the program was implemented within the Cedar Rapids School District. Since 2005, more than 2,500 students in Cedar Rapids have participated in the Switch program. On average, participants decreased their screen time more than two hours per week, increased their steps by about 350 per day, and increased fruit and vegetable consumption by two servings a day. The Switch Team reported that children in the program spent more time playing and less time in front of the television or computer. Switch providers speak at workplaces, PTA meetings, and other events, increasing awareness of the program throughout the community. In one study conducted by the Institute on Media and the Family, only 15% of responding families had formally participated in Switch yet 33% of those who had heard of the program reported that they had increased their physical activity as a result of the program.

This year, the President’s Council presented the Community Leadership Award to 28 individuals and organizations across the country for making sports, physical activity, fitness, and nutrition-related programs available in their communities.