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First Nutrition Knowledge Bowl Draws Rave Reviews

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A new approach to educating youth about good nutrition won rave reviews last weekend as more than 500 enthusiastic participants turned out for the First Annual Nutrition Knowledge Bowl, presented by the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center (UCCRC).

Held at the DuSable Museum of African-American History, the event drew students, parents, and other supporters who packed the auditorium to watch six Chicago high school teams learn about nutrition using a game show format similar to "Jeopardy." Kenwood Academy won first place and $3,000 for the school as it demonstrated expertise about nutrition.

The program was presented by Community Engagement Centering on Solutions (CECOS), an initiative of the UCCRC to increase public awareness about cancer prevention and research. Genetics researcher Rick Kittles, PhD, leads CECOS and is associate director for diversity and community outreach at the UCCRC.

To prepare for the Nutrition Bowl, students learned about the importance of a healthy diet to prevent cancer and other diseases. Among the facts they learned was that a balanced diet can reduce the risk of cancer by as much as 30 to 40 percent.

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De La Salle Institute Lourdes Campus won second place. Third place went to the University of Chicago Charter School Woodlawn Campus. Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences reached the final round. In addition, Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men and Hales Franciscan High School were fierce competitors.

The six participating schools represented a diverse collection of public and private institutions. "All of the students exhibited extraordinary grasp of the information," Kittles said. "The questions were perfectly matched to the students, which helped provide a lot of drama and excitement."

VH1 celebrity Ian Smith, MD, a graduate of the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, emceed the event. Smith is the creator of the "50 Million Pound Challenge" and a medical/diet expert for "Celebrity Fit Club" on VH1. He authored the best-selling books The Fat Smash Diet and the Extreme Fat Smash Diet.

WGCI radio personality Frankie Robinson livened up the competition and gave away prizes to excited young people in the competition and in the audience. Robinson concluded with wise advice from her personal experiences and encouraged young people at the event to continue pursuing their dreams despite the obstacles they may face.

"It is remarkable that so many students turned out on a wintry Saturday morning to cheer on the teams and learn about nutrition," said Michelle Le Beau, PhD, director of the UCCRC. "The participants and their supporters turned the Knowledge Bowl into a lively, joyful event."

CECOS promotes engagement with Chicago's South Side community to increase local awareness of advances in cancer research and communicate the benefits of participation in clinical trials and other UCCRC research studies.