Healthier Community - TeachersAccording to the latest information from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), 17% of all children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. This is a three-fold increase from just one generation ago. Recognizing the need to produce registered dietitians and nutrition professionals to deal with this issue, Indio High School has responded with a unique course offering called the “Physiology of Digestion.”

CVEPStudents at Indio High School take this course (now in its second year) under the guidance of biology teacher and science chairperson, Jason Tate. In an effort to increase levels of awareness regarding nutrition and how food choices affect health, students participate in this year-long science elective. The Physiology of Digestion is thought to be as rigorous as many college courses, requiring students to learn advanced concepts like organic chemistry and complex biological processes. Students get an in-depth view of how everything we eat is processed, absorbed, released and/or utilized by the body. Liz Stankis, a local Registered Dietitian and CVEP HIC Nutrition Work Group Champion, has been a guest speaker and after witnessing what the students are learning stated, “We didn’t cover this material until our second semester as nutrition majors in college.”

Students volunteer at sporting events on campus to provide healthy snack bar food and a Health & Nutrition Club has recently been approved by the district. This club will enable student members and officers to: participate in school and community events for nutrition education; hold diabetes and obesity awareness rallies on campus; build a school and community garden; and approach school lunch reform for the district.

Mr. Tate’s Biology and Nutrition classes have received support over the years from Sprouts Farmer’s Market in La Quinta and are looking for more community supporters to help the program grow. The level of excitement and passion for nutrition among present and former students of the program is inspiring. Many students have completely changed the way that they eat as well as the way that their families eat.

A second year is being developed for those interested in becoming food science majors, and will focus on job shadowing and internships. Ultimately, the vision shared by participants is expressed in a quote from Thomas Edison. “The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”

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