HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) -- It's an alarming number - 37 percent of Hartford's preschoolers are overweight or obese. That shows the obesity epidemic starts early in life. But there's a program that is trying to fight obesity at a very early age, too.
In the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats lots of things, and too many kids are eating the wrong things according to a recent study done by UConn of Hartford's preschoolers.
"One out of every three were obese or overweight and that was alarming to us," said Jane Crovell of the Department of Families, Children, Youth and Recreation in Hartford.
37 percent of the preschoolers in Hartford's early learning centers were overweight or obese. The FoodCorps program is trying to reduce that number by showing kids the right things to eat, and showing where their food comes from by introducing kids to actual farmers like Caitlin Henzler of Bright Yellow Farm in Bloomfield.
"They don't know that carrots have leaves and they grow a whole plant and the root plant is in the ground and you eat the root of the carrot," Henzler explained.
To teach kids about where carrots and all the other vegetables come from, next year they're going to turn part of the playground into a raised bed garden.
"We build gardens with the students and we teach them about nutrition and we try to get them to increase their fruit and veggie consumption by making them more aware of where veggies come from," said Chelsey Hahn of FoodCorps.
It's a tough fight. Earlier this week, a Connecticut College study of rats found their brains found more pleasure eating Oreos than taking cocaine. So we know food that's bad for us tastes so good. What's important is to find the pleasure in food that's good for us and that can start very early.
"I think it's a good time to start building habits," Hahn said. "I grew up loving veggies probably because I grew them when I was younger."
Chelsey is one of 125 servicemembers FoodCorps has across the country doing exactly what you saw. She contacted News 8 when she saw the report on the study about rats liking Oreos better than cocaine. She said that's exactly why kids need to be taught about the right things to eat.
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