A report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (October 2010 issue) stated children of the U.S. are nutritionally starving. How can such an obese country have children who are starving?
They claim almost 40 percent of a typical child’s daily diet is comprised of “empty calories.” These nutritionally-voided diets are filled with sugar, high-fructose syrup and trans-saturated fat. Sports drinks, soda pop, fruit drinks, fast-food, starchy/salty snacks and sugary desserts are often culprits for our country’s obesity problem.
This is a startling figure for the pediatric medical profession, and deems immediate action on the part of all medical providers, parents and school dieticians. Something needs to be done before more children are at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
The report stated children from 2 to 18-year-olds primarily consumed “grain desserts, pizza and soda.” The American Dietetic Association claimed that “sugar-sweetened drinks (soda or fruit drinks) provided nearly 10 percent of total caloric intake.”
One of the first lines of defense in helping children avoid obesity is to make sure soda and fruit drinks are not their first beverage choice. Educating kids and parents to keep these sugary drinks out of the house, is key to maintaining a healthy weight. Low fat milk and water are healthier choices.
Foods high in saturated fat are offered everywhere. Donuts, snack cakes, fruit muffins, and chips are popular, yet poor choices. How can kids avoid these when commercials during after school television programs are filled with these foods, tempting children to beg parents for that new tasty treat? And of course it’s so hard to say “no” to our kids when it sounds yummy to the parents meandering down the grocery aisles!Mrs. Michelle Obama’s program to reverse the obesity epidemic, “Let’s Move!” is focusing on our youth putting an end to this worsening trend. Her plan is to increase physical fitness and improve the nutrition for children.
The First Lady states schools need to “provide healthier foods in school lunchrooms and vending machines.” Additionally, Mrs. Obama has developed a HealthierUS Schools Challenge, where schools are required to meet higher standards in nutrition and physical activity. More schools need to participate in this to achieve her goals for our children’s future.
Goals for the HealthierUS Schools Challenge:
- To double the number of participating schools by summer of 2011. She wants to add 1000 schools each year for the next two years.
- Monetary gifts will be presented from the USDA to involved schools every time they complete a level of the challenge.
- Developing an online program for chefs to give expert advice on menus and overall support for the school nutritionists.
- Inspiring youth to begin a regular exercise routine. The “President’s Active Lifestyle Award” is given to students who perform physical activity for the minimum of 60 minutes a day, five days weekly for six weeks. The First Lady hopes to double the number of children earning this award this year.
The medical profession has been concerned with the U.S. childhood obesity epidemic for years, but now the government agrees this is an urgent matter that must be addressed. To find more information, search http://www.letsmove.gov .