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 Just add SPICE  

Just add SPICE: a recipe for happy, healthy kids 3-6

Do your kids refuse to eat vegetables?

Do they constantly whine for soda and snacks?

Are they always playing video games or watching TV?

Do you want to help them learn healthy habits but are afraid you will lose your mind from the crying and temper tantrums?

Well, you're not alone!

"Everyone is telling us the kinds of changes we need to make in our families to make sure we’re all healthy, but how do we do that without increasing the power struggles that are already present? How do we decrease the whining and crying and tantrum-ing?" - Roni Leiderman, PhD, Dean of the Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies at Nova Southeastern University.

The Just add SPICE program contains video profiles of four families facing and overcoming challenges related to nutrition and physical activity by using proven parenting skills. Using a reality show-style format, these families are challenged to put the SPICE parenting techniques to work on their most ingrained unhealthy habits. Dr. Roni Leiderman works with each family to set goals and work towards not only healthier kids but a more enjoyable family environment. The program also contains bonus video segments on each SPICE skill and a printable learning guide. All video elements were shot in High Definition and will be closed captioned.

"It is reassuring, as a pediatrician, to know that the program I am referring a patient to is saying things that I would love to teach my patients but have no time." - Howard Taras, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at University of California San Diego and Chief Medical Officer for the San Diego Unified School District.

How Should it be Used?

Parents can watch the segments in whatever order they like or they can follow the learning guide for a more structured experience. Parents can also form their own learning groups similar to book clubs and use the materials with other parents at home or wherever they find meeting space - at their child's school, a library, a religious center or community center.

Childcare providers, healthcare providers, physical activity providers and any other organization that serves children 3-6 can use the resources to provide parents with a learning experience.

Evidence Based Program

The Just add SPICE video and print materials were recently focus group-tested with parents and caregivers of children 3-6. The parents were almost universal in their praise of the materials. The final resource will be quantitatively evaluated in a national study of parents to determine its effects on their ability to adopt healthy lifestyles with their children. Results of this study will be released in late 2010.

Content Advisors

The project's nationally recognized board of advisors includes:

  • Bonnie Bruce, MPH, DrPH, RD, Senior Research Scientist, Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Stanford University,
  • Roni Leiderman, PhD, Dean, Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies, Nova Southeastern University,
  • Lorrene Ritchie, PhD, RD, Center for Weight and Health, University of California Berkeley,
  • Nurit Sheinberg, EdD, Director of Research and Evaluation, Mailman Segal Institute for Early Childhood Studies, Nova Southeastern University
  • Howard Taras, MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Chief Medical Consultant, San Diego Unified School District.

  • Funder

    Production and research on the Just add SPICE materials were funded by SBIR grant number 5R44DK070395-03 from the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).


    State of the Art, Inc. combines creative excellence and research-based content to address communication challenges in the fields of health and education. We create programs, materials and campaigns that make the leap between good ideas and change. Visit us at www.stateart.com.


    The Just Add SPICE DVD will be available from PBS Home Video in Summer 2010.

    To watch the introduction video in its entirety, click here.

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