December 2011 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 3, Issue 12]

 
Lowering Obesity Rates for Students
The rate of obesity has been on an incline for quite a while in the United States, which is scary because there are so many health issues related to obesity. However, this month Iím seeing some hope in New York City where the obesity rate in school children has started to decline. A large part of that progress may be due to changes in school policies.
 
Obesity rate falls for New York Schoolchildren
http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/12/15
 

This article looks at a little good news. The number of obese schoolchildren in New York City dropped by 5.5% over that past five years (thatís about 6,500 fewer obese kids in the city). Whatís happening? It may be due to advertising campaigns aimed at sugary sodas and restrictions on school vending machines.

Thinking about this in school:

  • An interesting topic for civics classes – should restrictions on vending machines be allowed? Are they effective?
  • Make a school ad campaign in art or health classes describing the potential problems with too much sugary soda, or too much junk food.
  • Teach younger kids how to spot healthier choices in vending machines.
 
Grading the American Diet
 

What would it look like if an organization decided to grade the eating habits of Americans? It probably wouldn’t make for a good report card. Although most Americans have an idea of what not to eat and which types of foods make up a healthy diet, most still aren’t following a healthy diet.

American diet gets failing grade

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/1215

This article takes a look at the Healthy Eating Index, which assesses the intake of various food groups.  The average score is only about 60 out of 100 points, which indicates Americans need a little homework help on nutrition and diet.

What you can do to help your students and their families:

  • Talk about the foods we need to increase: green and colorful vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Explain what needs to be avoided or cut back: sugary foods, high-fat foods, foods high in sodium, and nutrient-poor junk foods.
  • Teach how to count calories – it’s a skill that’s necessary for weight loss.
Depression and Binge Eating

Binge eating is can be a serious eating disorder when it occurs on a regular basis. It’s usually accompanied by feelings of guilt afterwards, and new research finds there is an association between depression and binge eating in teenage girls.

Depression and binge eating linked in teen girls
http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20111214/depression-binge-eating-linked-teen-girls

This article looks at a recent research study that linked depression and binge eating in teenage girls.  The results appeared to work both ways, girls who were depressed were likely to binge more often than girls who weren’t depressed, and the girls more likely to binge eat were also more likely to become depressed.

 
 
Rewards and Eating Vegetables
 

Preschoolers who usually wonít eat their vegetables may respond to a reward, as long as the reward isnít simply verbal praise. Something like a small sticker may help.

Kids wonít eat veggies? Try rewards, a study says
http://www.chicagotribune.com/health

This article describes a study in the United Kingdom that found positive results for giving little rewards to kids for taking tiny tastes of vegetables they didn’t like.  Over time, the kids who were rewarded for tasting vegetables decided the “yucky” vegetables became “just okay” or even “yummy.”

Trying rewards at school:
  • Give the little kids stickers for tasting tiny amounts of vegetables at lunchtime.
  • Design rewards programs for use at home by parents and grandparents.
  • Teach kids why they need to eat their vegetables.
 
Helping Kids Who Overeat

Kids (and adults) often overeat when they’re not hungry, so we often focus on dietary therapies that restrict high-calorie foods and track their calorie counts and physical activity levels. It can work for adults, but isn’t very successful for managing weight issues with children. Experts at the University of California San Diego are working on new ways to help kids who overeat.

New approach to management of overeating in children
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases

This article looks at potential treatment methods for training kids and their parents to recognize and respond to the cues that signal hunger and the cues that tell kids they’re full.  They teach kids how to know when they’re really hungry and not just craving a certain food due to a TV commercial, food packaging or any type of emotional trigger.

 
 
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Foods That Help You Sleep

Getting a good night's sleep makes your work day (or school day) go so much better. If you have difficulty sleeping, you already know how tough staying alert during the day can be. But did you know that sleep is also important for your health? People who have chronic sleep loss are also at a higher risk of being obese, having heart disease, and diabetes; and kids with ADHD often have sleep disorders.

If you don't get enough sleep at night, you might rely on caffeine to keep you awake during the day. Drinking a cup or two of coffee in the morning is fine, but you're drinking more than that, you may need to cut back, especially if you're drinking a lot of that coffee in the afternoon. Quitting the caffeine habit isn't easy or comfortable. Many people suffer from withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, drowsiness, flu-like feelings, irritability and lack of concentration when they give up caffeine cold turkey. You can avoid those symptoms by gradually withdrawing. Try blending decaffeinated coffee with regular coffee. Increase the amount of decaf over a few weeks time.

The relationship between your diet and good sleep doesn't end with caffeine. There are several other ways to use foods to help you sleep better:
  • Avoid heavy or spicy foods. Or any foods you know that may cause heartburn, making it difficult for you to sleep at night.
  • Eat cherries. Not only are they rich in vitamins, cherries contain melatonin, a substance also found in the human body that helps regulate sleep. Eating fresh or dried cherries before you go to bed at night may help you sleep better:
  • Enjoy a light bedtime snack. Choose carbohydrates and dairy products, like a small bowl of whole grain cereal and non-fat milk. Carbohydrates make it easier to fall asleep and dairy products contain tryptophan, which may also help. Other foods that contain tryptophan include bananas, oats, and honey.
  • Avoid eating excessive fats. People who eat a lot of fatty foods may also have more difficulty sleeping. Be sure to get enough omega-3 fatty acids each day, however, because eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA - one type of omega-3 found in fish, especially tuna, salmon and trout) has a role in sleep induction in your brain.
People who don't get enough sleep tend to overeat by adding extra sugary and carbohydrate-rich snacks to their diets. All the extra calories from the snacking can lead to obesity, so not only do the foods you eat affect how you sleep, but the amount of sleep you get also affects the foods you choose to eat.
 
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Hunger stalks U.S. cities as poverty rises: study
http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-rt-us-hunger-stalkstre7be1vd-20111215,0,1593634.story

Turning nutrition education into a game
http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20111203/LIVING02/112020353/Turning-nutrition-education-into-game?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE%7Cp

Bitter sensitive children could eat more vegetables with the help of dip
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/238537.php

It's an uphill climb for obese kids and their parents
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/parenting-family/story/2011-11-29/Its-an-uphill-climb-for-obese-kids-and-their-parents/51475852/1

 
About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association and the Association of Health Car Journalists.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com), is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html), and teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.