Sabtu, 06 Oktober 2007

Getting a Handle on Childhood Obesity

Making a safe, healthy lunch part of the prevention strategyIn addition to the health issues attributed to childhood obesity, new research points to psychosocial issues – and absenteeism. The research study, conducted on fourth-to-sixth-grade students in nine schools in Philadelphia, indicates that the more overweight a child is, the more likely he or she is to be absent from school. Researchers suggest that higher absenteeism isn’t due to illness or other physical issues but to psychosocial issues, such as the intense social pressures and poor self-esteem that affect many overweight children.

Consequently, as more and more research points to both the physical and psychological effects of childhood obesity, parents, educators, and healthcare professionals are looking for ways to address the problem. In one such endeavor, four of the National Institutes of Health have joined forces to create the national education program We Can!, which stands for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition. The program is designed to help parents and caregivers keep children 8 to 13 years old at a healthy weight. We Can! offers information on energy balance (which takes into account daily calorie input versus daily energy output plus the amount of calories children require to grow), balanced nutrition, portion control, and more. For more information, visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan

Many parents are finding that one of the surest ways to control the contents and portions of a child’s lunch is to pack it at home. To make sure bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses don’t tag along inside that lunch sack, Nancy Bock, Vice President of Education at The Soap and Detergent Association, offers some safety tips.

Keep It Clean

• Make sure your hands, food-preparation surfaces, and utensils are clean. Use hot, soapy water to effectively get rid of bacteria. • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly and paper-towel them dry before packing.Keep It ColdBecause bacteria grow more slowly on cold items, anything you can do to make cold foods colder for longer is a good thing.• Make sandwiches the night before and refrigerate until morning. • Sandwiches (minus lettuce, tomatoes, or mayonnaise) can be frozen overnight. Choose coarse-textured bread, such as whole wheat, so the bread won’t get soggy when it thaws.• If morning assembly is more your style, pre-chill sandwich fixings, like bread and canned tuna, in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fix lunch.• If lunches are made the night before, keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to pack up and go. • A single-size juice pack can double as a cold pack if left in the freezer overnight. The juice will thaw by lunchtime, but will still be cold.Pack It Safe• An insulated lunch box is the best container. • If you’re packing the lunch in a brown bag, double-bag it for better insulation and add a cold source, such as a cold pack or frozen juice pack.• Pack hot foods in an insulated thermos so they stay hot until lunchtime. Pre-warm the thermos by filling it with boiling water. Let it stand for a few minutes, then empty out the water and put in the food. Keep the thermos closed until lunchtime.

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