February 2013 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 5, Issue 2]

 
 
Urban Areas and Food Deserts

Urban neighborhoods are often sites of food deserts – these are neighborhoods without access to stores that provide healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables.  These are often low-income neighborhoods and are associated with higher risks of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Taking A New Look At An Urban Area's Access To Healthier Foods
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256487.php

This article from Medical News Today describes food desserts in urban neighborhoods and talks about a study in Cincinnati, Ohio that looked at the commuting patterns of residents of these neighborhoods to see if they had access to supermarkets on the way to and from work.  They focused on people who drove back and forth and found in many cases, people who lived in urban area food deserts still had access to healthier foods on the way home. The authors of the study hope this information can be used to help encourage residents of these neighborhoods to stop for healthier foods along the way home.

Things you can do at school:
  • Study local neighborhoods – where are the “best” grocery stores located? Which neighborhoods have no grocery stores?
  • Have students work in teams to come up with ideas to promote healthy eating.
  • In cooking classes, have students collect healthy recipes made from inexpensive ingredients.
 
 
Parents May Not See The Weight
 

Parents don’t always realize their kids are overweight or obese. This is problematic because kids who have weight problems tend to become even heavier adults, and being obese is a major risk factor for so many diseases. If more parents recognize weight problems in their children sooner, we can get them help quicker.

Poll: Many Americans Don’t See Their Kids as Overweight
http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=673817

According to this article on HealthDay, only about half the parents of overweight or obese children recognize the weight problems. It also looks like most parents don’t understand that being overweight as a child will mostly likely lead to weight problems in adulthood.

Tips for teachers and parents:
  • Don’t blame kids for being overweight, or accuse the parents of not caring.
  • Provide nutrition and dietary advice to parents – maybe host a family fitness night at school.
  • Address healthy eating and fun fitness activities at all grade levels.
 
Girls and Steroid Use

Some athletes try to get a jump on their competition by using anabolic steroids. Even non-athletes may use them to bulk up and lose the fat. Experts estimate six to eight percent of high school boys take them, which isn’t good. Now it appears girls are using them too.

Disturbing Study Shows More Girls Are Using Steroids
http://www.wvec.com/news

This article out of Virginia Beach, Virginia describes study findings indicating that more girls are using steroids than in the past – possibly four to five percent of girls. Steroids can be dangerous, especially when used by kids.

Addressing Steroid Use:
  • Discuss the long term consequences of steroid use – damage to the reproductive system, weak tendons, heart and liver problems, plus the mood swings and “roid” rage.
  • Learn the signs of steroid use. Young women may develop facial hair and deeper voices, while males may display unusually fast muscle growth and acne.
  • Be on the lookout for steroid products disguised as creams, patches, drops and tablets.
 
 
Blame the Only Children?
 

Some European studies indicate “only children” tend to be heavier than kid with siblings. In fact, these studies indicate only children have a 50 to 70 percent higher risk. Why would this be? I’m an only child (and guess what – I was overweight when other kids were all slim), so I’d love to know if this is true.

Are Only Children To Blame for the Obesity Crisis?
http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-obesity-risk-only-children-last-born-20130220,0,709081.story

This article in the Los Angeles Times describes a recent study out of Denmark that explored some of the potential reasons for chubbier only children.  Old explainations blamed lazy moms – it was easier to keep feeding the onlies. Current thought blames biology, but no one really seems to know why.
 
That May Not Be the Fish You Expected

Fish is delicious and as long as you don’t deep fry it in a thick batter, it’s really good for you. Of course, not all fish are alike – some have better flavor, some have more omega-3s and some have more mercury.

Not a big deal, as long as you can identify which fish are what, but apparently that’s more difficult than we thought.
 
Survey Finds That Fish Are Often Not What Label Says
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/us/survey-finds-that-fish-are-often-not-what-label-says.html

This article from The New York Times describes the findings of a group called Oceana – turns out that fish you eat may not be the fish you expected. There’s a lot of fish in the sea and a lot of them look alike, so it’s easy to understand why the fish would get mislabeled. But in other cases, it’s due to the names. You may be happy to eat fish entitled “Orange Roughy,” but would you still order it by it’s other real name, “Slimehead?” Ick, probably not.
 
 
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My Top Ten Reasons To Eat Right

A healthy balanced diet includes foods from all the major food groups (fruits and vegetables, meats or proteins, dairy or calcium, grains, and a little bit of healthy fat). You also want to consume the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight. And, of course, you want to cut back on high-calorie, sugary, fatty foods like candy, cake, pastries, snack chips, pizza and the like. You don't have to eliminate them completely, but they shouldn't take up more than a tiny part of your daily menu.

Here are my top ten reasons to eat a healthy diet:

1. Makes it easier to lose weight.
A healthy, balanced diet, including lots of fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables, can help you lose weight when you fill up on fiber while keeping your calorie count down.

2. Also makes it easier to gain weight.
While there's much more interest in losing weight, there are a number of people who need to gain weight.  Choosing healthful energy-dense foods like nuts, seeds and dried fruit can help you gain weight without resorting to junk foods.

3. Reduces your risk of type II diabetes.
Having a history of poor eating habits and being obese are two major risk factors for type II diabetes. Increasing your intake of healthful foods and losing weight if you're obese will help you cut that risk.

4. Reduces your risk of some types of cancer.
Eating a poor diet, drinking too much alcohol, and gaining too much weight are all potential risk factors for various types of cancers. Eating a diet high in fat is a risk factor for colon, uterine and prostate cancer; and being overweight increases your risk for breast, colon, esophageal, uterine and kidney cancer.

5. Sets a good example for your kids.
If you're a parent or grandparent struggling with a picky eater,  you might find the situation easier to handle if you set a good example for your child. How can you expect your kids to eat broccoli while you're eating potato chips?

6. Don't need to rely on dietary supplements.
Eating a healthful, balanced diet will provide you will all the essential vitamins and minerals you need every day. There's nothing wrong with taking a multi-vitamin to ensure an adequate intake, but research indicates there are more health benefits associated with eating a variety of healthful foods than loading up on dietary supplements.

7. Helps you feel more energetic.
Eating a healthful diet provides you with the carbohydrates you need for energy, along with enough B-complex vitamins to help the process along. Don't forget to start your day with a healthful breakfast — it helps keep you alert all morning.

8. Provides enough fiber.
You need dietary fiber for a healthy digestive system and to help maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most Americans eat less fiber than they should. A healthful diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, which are all great sources of fiber.

9. Lets you eat good fats while cutting back on the bad fats.
A balanced diet will give you omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that are good for your brain and your heart. It also makes it easier to avoid most trans-fats and helps you cut back on saturated fats, both of which are associated with inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

10. Cuts out the excess sodium.
Eating too much sodium is associated with high blood pressure in certain individuals, which can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. A healthy diet helps you reduce your sodium intake when you cut back on the processed foods that are often extremely high in sodium, even when they’re not all that salty.

 
More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

Eating Healthy on a Budget Easier Than You Think
http://www.9news.com/news/article/318193/339/How-to-eat-healthy-on-a-budget

Communities That Care: ‘Rockstar’ Nutritionist Adds Fun to Healthy Lifestyle
http://www.centredaily.com/2013/02/20/3509026/communities-that-care-rockstar.html

Smarter Lunchrooms Make Lunch Choices Child's Play
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130222083125.htm

Food Allergies Tied to Impaired Growth in Kids
http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=673744

 
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 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care 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 Clinical Anatomy for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118116437.html). She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students and fundamentals of nutrition to undergrads at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.