First Nutrition Knowledge Bowl draws rave reviews: Students learn cancer prevention early in life

First Nutrition Knowledge Bowl draws rave reviews

Students learn cancer prevention early in life

December 15, 2008

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.

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.

The Nutrition Bowl attracted support from numerous groups, including Oprah's Angel Network, Exelon, WGCI, Dominick's, Farmer's Best Market, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the University of Chicago Medial Center Office of Community Affairs, and the University of Chicago Institute for Translational Medicine.

Educational GameWorks™ developed the game format of the Nutrition Knowledge Bowl. The company is an African-American educational consulting firm that creates innovative games to facilitate learning and can be found at Engage Everyone, a digital advertising company,, provided digital TV screens and pre-event promotion.

For more information on the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center (UCCRC) and CECOS, visit

About the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center
The University of Chicago Cancer Research Center (UCCRC) employs a wealth of intellectual, technological, and financial resources to pursue a comprehensive, collaborative research program involving more than 200 renowned scientists and clinicians. Established following approval of the National Cancer Act of 1973, the UCCRC is one of only two NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Illinois.

The UCCRC's Community Engagement Centering on Solutions (CECOS) encompasses a comprehensive effort to enhance public awareness of cancer prevention, early cancer detection and control, and the role of genetics in cancer. The CECOS goal is "to provide relevant, clear, and concise information about cancer, the benefits in cancer clinical trial participation, scientific advances in genetics, and the value of understanding family history in assessing cancer risk." CECOS is developing collaborative partnerships with the community and its leaders to promote healthier neighborhoods and prevent disease.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.