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College of Human Ecology

K-State team takes first in national sensory design competition

Thursday, June 7, 2007

MANHATTAN -- The idea -- get sixth-graders to use their five senses to develop better food habits.

The goal -- lower the prevalence of obesity in children.

The plan won a team of five Kansas State University College of Human Ecology students first place in the recent third annual Elaine Skinner Memorial Sensory Design Competition, a nationwide contest. It's also the third win in the competition for K-State.

Students on the team, all in K-State's sensory analysis graduate program and all from Manhattan, are Alisa Doan, Aussama Soontrunnarudrungsri, Kelly Thompson, Gaewalin Oupadissakoon and Jeehyun Lee.

The team's winning project was "Sensory Knowledge: A Basis for Healthy Living."

Sensory evaluation means to evoke, measure, analyze and interpret people's reactions to foods based on the senses. The team developed 12 lesson plans to teach the relationship between sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch and eating choices.

In one lesson, students would conduct sensory evaluation on fried vs. baked potato chips, low sodium vs. regular crackers and sugar-free vs. regular gelatin.

In others, they would link physical activity and food to obesity.

Obesity is defined as being by 30 percent or more above ideal body weight.

About one third of U.S. children - 25 million - are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The judges found the entry comprehensive and well integrated, said Edgar Chambers IV, director of K-State's Sensory Analysis Center. He said the judges congratulated the team for creativity and on using "legitimate science to get at concrete answers."

According to the team members, the lessons are applicable to everyone, not just sixth-graders. The lesson plans also include advice for parents:

* Don't ban snacks; young children need them. Do keep fresh fruit, raw vegetables, microwave popcorn and low-fat milk or cheese readily available.

* Limit recreational screen time -- televisions, computers, video games - to no more than two hours a day

* Avoid eating in front of the television; people tend to eat more when watching the tube

* Read nutrition fact labels with your child.

* Consider serving sizes. One serving is a small handful of dried fruit, five or six baby carrots and a portion of meat the size of a deck cards

* To eat smaller portions, order small fries instead of the supersize portion and save 300 calories, and don't eat snacks such as cookies or chips from the bag.

K-State's Sensory Analysis Center, opened in 1983, is internationally recognized for consulting, education and research.

Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-6415
News release prepared by: Jane Marshall, 785-532-5521, jpm2@k-state.edu

This article was posted on Thursday, June 7, 2007, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.