LAFAYETTE — Eight-year-old Morgan Landry no longer simply eats a lot of something just because it tastes good, her father, Eaves Landry, said.

Morgan Landry was one of 12 participants who completed a summer pilot program called Kids on the Geaux!. It is a community-based effort to combat childhood obesity.

Morgan’s dad said she now thinks more about what she’s eating. She also tries to adhere to the program’s portion rules, which call for snack portions that are no larger than one’s palm.

“Now Morgan walks up to us and asks, ‘Dad, does this fit in my hand?’ ” Eaves Landry said.

The collaborative weight management program was launched this summer by Women’s & Children’s Hospital, Woman’s Foundation, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Picard Center and the university’s Kinesiology, Nursing and Allied Professional Health Progression programs.

Youth who participated in the 12-week program, which ran from June through August, saw increased upper body and abdominal strength, decreases in body mass index (body fat) and improved musculoskeletal performance, program representatives said during a Tuesday news conference.

“We’re hoping to make a significant change for these children,” said Leona Boullion, chief operating officer for Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

David Bellard, an assistant professor of Kinesiology, said one child came in having difficulty walking up a flight of stairs and left with the ability to run around the track at ULL’s Bourgeois Hall.

At the conclusion, participants were able to complete an average of 29 more chin-ups and five more push-ups, which Bellard said was significant because some initially were unable to complete a single push-up.

Researchers also found a significant relationship between a parent’s belief they could provide the child with the opportunity to exercise and the child’s body mass index, Bellard said.

During twice-a-week sessions, participants exercised and learned about nutrition, which included reading labels, appropriate portion sizes, healthful snacks, reducing sugar and fat, and eating out.

A graduate student from the university’s nursing program will work with participants to monitor their progress, said Lisa Broussard, ULL Nursing department head.

Boullion said Women’s & Children’s plans to continue the program in 2012 on the hospital’s campus.

“We still want to work with UL as much as we can,” Boullion said.

Applications are now being accepted for the spring.

For more, contact Breezy Rourk at the Woman’s Foundation at (337) 988-1816 or send email to breezy@womansfoundation.com.