November 2009 | Hotlunch.com| 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 3, Issue 1]

 
 
School Nutrition Getting Better, But Not the Best, Yet

According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, schools are improving their nutritional offerings, but more still can be done to combat childhood obesity.  Of course, serving good foods is only half the battle – exercise is important too, but standards for physical education vary greatly.

Nutrition Still Not 'A' Grade in U.S. Schools: Studies Show

http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2009/10/07

Keeping the junk foods out of schools will help decrease students' consumption of excessive calories.  Stock those vending machines with juice, vitamin water and other low, or non-calorie beverages. Offer fresh fruit, dried fruit and granola bars instead of candy bars and cookies.

 
Information About Tainted Foods Moves Too Slowly

Schools that rely on federally purchased commodities depend on federal agencies to keep them informed about recalls and safety issues regarding tainted foods.  A recent audit finds that this information moves too slowly and that puts millions of kids and school staff at risk for food-borne illnesses.

Audit Finds Federal Agencies Are Too Slow To Inform Schools of Tainted Food Recalls

http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2009/09/23/2009-09-23

The USDA is working on a system to keep schools informed on food safety issues.  Until then, you can keep on top of food safety recalls and information by following the Food Safety and Inspection Service on RSS feeds and Twitter -

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_032609_01/index.asp
 
 
 
Updating Food Labels

The Food and Drug Administration is going to set some standards for nutritional claims, which have become a bit confusing.  One example is the Smart Choice program.  Processed foods that have been deemed acceptable by the participating food manufacturers are starting to carry the Smart Choice label.  The problem is, these foods may not really be all that healthy,

 
F.D.A. to Clarify Standards for the Front of Food Labels

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/business/21food.html

 
Many experts think some of the foods that qualify for the Smart Choice label contain too much sugar or fat to really be smart choices, such as Froot Loops and mayonnaise. Hopefully the new standards will make choosing packaged foods easier. But until then, keep these things in mind:
  • Kids love pre-sweetened cereals, but many of them go overboard in the amount of sugar added.  Read nutrient facts labels to compare.  Look for cereals that are high in fiber and lower in sugar.
  • Many processed foods contain a lot of sodium either as salt, flavor enhancers or preservatives.  Avoid foods that contain more than 400 mg sodium per serving.
  • Some fat is good, like polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3 fats), but all fats are high in calories, so read the nutrient facts labels on the package to check for the amount of fat and fat-calories in each serving. 
  • Always double check the actual serving-size on a package.  While one small bowl of sweetened breakfast cereal may fit into a balanced breakfast (think peanut butter on whole grain toast and a small glass of juice), a huge bowl of pre-sweetened cereal may contain 3 or 4 servings – and that's too much sugar. 
 
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Nutrient Facts How to Prevent Colds and Flu with Good Nutrition

There's a lot of concern about H1N1 flu in schools and many people are still waiting for vaccinations to arrive.  You've probably already taught students the importance of washing their hands, covering their coughs and other basic health tips.  Did you know that eating healthy foods may help too?

Your immune system requires several nutrients to function properly such as vitamin C, zinc, protein and vitamin A. Being chronically deficient in these nutrients may make it more likely your kids will get sick.  All of these nutrients can be found in a healthy diet.

What about dietary supplements?

While taking vitamins certainly doesn't hurt, studies haven't backed up the claims of dietary supplements ability to prevent colds or flu, however people who eat healthy diets with lots of fruits and vegetables may be less likely to get sick.

And is sugar bad?

Many people believe eating sugar harms your immune system function.  This idea was based on some laboratory research in the 1970s, and probably doesn't hold true, so dont' worry about the occasional candy bar.  It isn't going to raise your risk of getting sick.  However, being obese does affect your immune system function so eating too much sugar every day can lead to excess weight gain and that can raise your risk of getting sick.  As a guide line, the American Heart Association suggests no more than 100 to 200 calories per day should come from added sugar.
 
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium.asp
 

More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Schools Mix Nutrition with Academics to Fight Obesity
http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/schools-mix-nutrition
 

Overeating on Pocket Change

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/health/13calorie.html?_r=3&ref=health
Parents: ABCs of Raising Safe and Healthy Kids
http://www.cdc.gov/family/parentabc/
 

Protecting Your Children From Swine Flu

http://www.everydayhealth.com/the-swine-flu/protect-your-children-from-swine-flu.aspx
 
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.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com) and is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies
(http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html)