August 2016 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 8, Issue 8]

Kids Eat Right Month

August is back-to-school time for many kids across the United States. It's also Kids Eat Right Month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to make sure kids are properly fed and fueled so they can be at their healthiest and hopefully have better days in school.

During Kids Eat Right Month, Help Children Fuel for School with Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The Academy offers a few tips on how kids can eat better, starting with breakfast. The tips are aimed towards parents and caregivers, but I think some fun school projects could blossom from these tips.

What to do at school:

  • Have kids make posters showing their favorite healthy foods.
  • Create informative packets that can go home with students. These packets could include tips for parents and maybe coupons and offers from local grocers/merchants who might be willing to help out.
  • Talk about the importance of eating a healthy school lunch, and of course, be a role model in the lunch room.
Those 'Best By Dates' on Your Food Packaging

Most of the foods you buy in the grocery store have some sort of a 'use by' date somewhere on the package. I think most of us believe that once that date passes by, the food is no longer fit to consume. But is that true? What does the 'best by date' really mean?

How Do Food Manufacturers Pick 'Best By' Dates?

This news story published by CNN offers an explanation on how food companies determine those all important dates. Food companies aren't required to use any single system to determine those dates so they can mean most anything. Usually, they're meant to be a signal to the stores to rotate their stock. The article also has tips on how to use those dates in your own kitchen.

Americans Getting Heavier

New estimates show the average American is 15 pounds heavier now compared to the late 80s and early 90s. That extra weight equals an extra point or two on the Body Mass Index, which helps determine if someone is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. Higher BMIs are linked to greater risk of health problems.

Average American 15 Pounds Heavier Than 20 Years Ago

This news story from HealthDay describes the new estimates. The average American adult male weight about 196 pounds and the average American female weighs about 169 pounds. Average heights for men and women, 5'9" and 5'4" have remained the same.

Where Do All Those Junk Foods Come From?

I think many consumers associate the words 'junk food' with stuff we buy at fast food joints or pull out of vending machines. But that's probably not where the bulk of our junk foods come from. The bad news is that most junk foods come from the grocery store. The good news, I think, is that we can retrain ourselves to buy healthier snacks and meals.

Where Do Americans Buy Most of Their Junk Food?

This story from HealthDay describes a study that finds most sugary soft drinks and junk foods are purchased at supermarkets. What makes this interesting is that it's currently thought that having access to grocery stores helps make neighborhoods healthier by avoiding food desserts. I'm sure they do, but maybe we need to add another step to teach people how to make healthier choices.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about how to shop for healthier foods - follow the perimeter of the store because most of the junk foods are in the middle.
  • Have kids create their own healthy shopping lists. Be sure to include healthy treats.
  • What are better alternatives to junk foods? Fruits, veggies, 'healthier' versions of junk foods? Have students do the research.
Can the Littles Eat Salt?

Adding a little salt is an easy way to add flavor to foods, but it often gets a bad rap because most of us consume way too much sodium. We know that too much salt may be a problem for grown-ups, but what about the little ones?

Should You Salt a Child's Food?

This blog from the New York Times answers a question about whether or not it's safe to add salt to a 5-year-old's food. The answer is yes, it's fine in moderation. In fact, adding a pinch of salt may improve the flavor of important foods like those bitter veggies that are so good for us.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about why eating a healthy dinner is important.
  • Let parents know that timing may not matter, so if late dinners work for the family, it's okay.
  • In foods classes, have kids find recipes and meals that are easy to make, even when dinner time runs late.
No Need for All Those Sports Drinks

Sports drinks sound like they should be good for a kid's health, but they're usually high in sugar and a bit on the acidic side. This means drinking too much of these drinks could lead to tooth decay and contribute to obesity.

Children Consuming Sports Drinks Unnecessarily

This story from Science Daily describes a study that finds British kids are drinking too many sports drinks when they don’t need them. Sports drinks are heavily marketed to kids and popular in the US as well. While sports drinks might help athletes recover from heavy workouts, the average kid doesn’t need them.

What to do at school:

  • Explain why the extra sugar isn't really good for kids.
  • What's better? Water. Have kids find out how much water they need.
  • As a class project, have kids come up with other healthier beverages.
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About Shereen Lehman

Shereen Lehman 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 (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies ( and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies ( She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.