Information to ensure that appropriate nutritional food is on the table for children at home and school.
The children of America are the nation's future; they are their parent's greatest love. Parents and family members go to great lengths to ensure their children receive the things they need to grow up knowing they are cared for and wanted. As the future they represent, children deserve the proper nutrition they need to promote their growth and development.
Eating healthy helps to prevent diseases, health conditions and forms of disabilities. For example; eating healthy helps to prevent high blood pressure, high cholesterol and helps to reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A healthy diet helps to reduce a person's risk of developing osteoporosis, obesity, dental caries, and iron deficiency. In fact - eating a healthy diet is associated with a reduced risk for many diseases, to include the leading causes of death:
Guidelines Vs. Reality
The overwhelming majority of parents in America are very aware of the financial costs of raising children in this nation. Not only do parents and family members pay for everything from housing to clothing, medical costs, school-related costs and far more - children go through developmental phases and always seem to want the latest, 'thing.' Parents; especially parents of children with disabilities, might very well find themselves feeling frazzled and hoping for more time and money. Ensuring that appropriate nutrition is on the table is on the list of many items, to be sure.
Consistently meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, while perhaps on the list of many items parents pursue each day in relation to raising children, may at times be somewhat lax. Reality is what it is, so what is the solutionWell... let's look at those, 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans,' first.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, whole grains, as well as fat-free and low-fat dairy products for people who are age 2 and older. The guidelines also recommend that children, adolescents and adults limit their intake of solid fats, sodium, cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains. The reality is that most young people are not following the recommendations presented in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Schools Can Help
Schools are in a distinct position to promote healthy eating and help parents ensure appropriate food and nutrient intake in children. Schools provide children with opportunities to eat an array of foods and drinks throughout the school day and help children to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors. For example; instead of drinking soda pop, schools can provide children with access to safe and free drinking water.
Schools can also make sure that only nutritious and appealing foods and drinks are provided in their cafeterias, snack bars, vending machines and other venues that offer foods and drinks to children. Schools can teach nutrition education, which should be part of a comprehensive school health education curriculum.
The Benefits of Eating Healthy
Eating a consistently healthy diet has certain benefits. Parents, of course, want their children to benefit from a healthy diet. The benefits of eating healthy include:
The Consequences of Eating Poorly
Eating fast food every day, consuming chocolate chip cookies afterwards, and following it up with ice cream is most likely not the best idea. The consequences of eating poorly are not pleasant. These consequences may include the following:
People who eat fast food 1 or more times a week have an increased risk of weight gain, of being overweight, or of being obese. Those who drink sugar-sweetened beverages can experience the same risks. Poor nutrition can negatively affect a person's overall health, their cognitive development, as well as their performance in school.
Food or Freedom
Were you angelic when you were in school? I was well...,' semi-angelic,' and it's perhaps best left at that. Going to school meant that I was largely left to myself, able to do a lot of things I was not at home. Otherwise forbidden foods and drinks were at the top of the list of things I reached for and it would not be surprising at all to many parents that kids today are doing the same thing many of us did while in school - reach for the pop and chips or candy bars.
Junk food was as popular as the latest band when I was a kid. The corner store was right there and all my friends reached for the junk food too. Vegetables on the dinner plate usually ended up being fed to the dog. Somehow, we managed to survive it. From the perspective of the guidelines; however, most young people in America:
The reality is that empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children between the ages of 2 and 18 in America. Around half of these junk calories come from 6 sources:
Teenagers drink more full-calorie soda pop every day than they do milk. Males between the ages of 12 and 19 drink an average of 22 ounces of full-calorie soda pop each day - more than 2 times their intake of milk. Females drink an average of 14 ounces of full-calorie soda pop and a mere 6 ounces of milk.
It seems the time to rally around the nation's schools, if only for the purpose of making sure children receive appropriate nutrition once or twice a day, has come. Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function, particularly memory. It is associated with a reduction in absenteeism, as well as improved mood.
National School Breakfast Program
Parent Nutrition Education
Breakfast - National Dairy Council