January 2012 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 4, Issue 1]

Helping Kids Lose Weight
Kids who need to lose weight don’t have it easy. For one thing, they’re still growing, so weight loss programs for kids aren’t going to be quite the same as the programs designed for adults. They also need to support of family – you can imagine how tough it must be for an obese child to watch Mom and Dad eat potato chips while he can’t.
Learning to be lean



This article looks at childhood obesity and explains how the new federal health care law requires health insurers and employers to pay for obesity screening for kids and also the companies must provide counseling for those who need to lose weight. It also describes a pilot program offered by UnitedHealth, which is in partnership with the YMCA in Providence, Rhode Island.

Thinking about this in school:
  • Teach kids how to make better eating choices.
  • Team up your school nutrition team and the physical education department to design programs for your kids who need to lose weight.
  • Host a family night with speakers who can teach parents how to eat right.
Grazing Girls

Ever heard of grazing? Some people claim it helps them keep their weight at a health level. The idea is to choose several small meals or snacks instead of the typical three big meals a day. It may work by keeping the hunger pangs away so grazers don’t over-eat.

Girls who graze gain less weight


This article takes a look at a study that found girls who ate frequent meals and snacks gained less weight over the course of a decade compared to girls who ate fewer, but larger, meals.  This was an observational study, which means the researchers didn’t tell the girls how often to eat, they simply kept track of how the girls ate over the course of a decade.

This is just one study, so it isn’t clear if this method works for everyone, but here are tips for students who are interested in grazing:
  • Portion size is the key. Eating more often means eating smaller amounts.
  • Itís always important to choose healthy foods.
  • Focus on the health benefits of eating right rather than just weight loss.
Food Myths

There are plenty of myths involving food and nutrition. Like drinking water. You don’t need eight glasses of water a day – you can get plenty of water from foods and other beverages (some are better for you than others, of course). There are other myths about nutritional values of foods too.

Food myths debunked

This article looks at some food myths. Dietitian Janice Cox of Minnesota explains why some myths are wrong. For example, brown eggs are no better for you than white eggs, and frozen or canned vegetables are still good for you.
Grocery Stores and Nutrition Scores

A growing number of grocery stores offer nutrition scores or the services of dietitians who can help you make healthier choices while you shop. Simple scoring and ranking systems make it easy to know which foods are nutritious and which ones are not.

Groceries hire companies to score foods’ nutritional value

This article describes nutritional ratings systems developed by NuVal and Guiding Stars. They license their ratings systems to grocery store chains and it looks like customers like them.

More grocery shopping tips:
  • Shop the perimeter of the store - most of the junk food is in the middle aisles.
  • Makes a list of the foods you need so you won’t forget something.
  • Donít shop when youíre hungryĖ you may be more tempted to make impulse buys.
Sucralose and Blood Sugar

Sucralose is a type of zero-calorie sweetener, often sold under the brand name Splenda. A growing number of  dieters use sucralose to tame their sugar cravings, but obesity rates continue to climb even as the use of sucralose rises in popularity.  Some claim sucralose increases blood sugar and contributes to insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain.

Sucralose may not affect blood sugar or insulin resistance, study suggests

This article looks at a study that examines the impact of sucralose on blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, a condition in which a person makes insulin, but can’t use it to efficiently. The study found consuming sucralose solutions didn’t cause the subjects’ blood sugar or insulin levels to change and it didn’t increase feelings of hunger any more than drinking plain water.
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Why You Need Water

Earlier I mentioned that you don’t really need to drink eight glasses of water every day for your body to get enough water.  That doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need water, it means you can get enough water from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink.

Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70% water; Your blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain a lot of water. You need water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to your organs and tissues. It also helps to transport oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs.

You lose water through urination, respiration, and by sweating, and you lose more water when you're active than when you're sedentary. Diuretics, such as caffeine pills, certain medications and alcohol may increase the amount of water your body loses.

Symptoms of mild dehydration include chronic pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches and constipation. A strong odor to your urine, along with a yellow or amber color, indicates that you may not be getting enough water. Note that riboflavin, a B vitamin, will make your urine bright yellow. Certain medications can change the color of urine as well. Thirst is an obvious sign of dehydration, and in fact, you need water before you feel thirsty.

Around 20% of the water you need comes from the foods you eat. The rest comes from the beverages you drink. Water is probably the best choice because it's cheap and has no calories or added ingredients. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have added sugar that adds extra calories. Sports drinks contain minerals that may help keep your electrolytes in balance, but look out for added sugar and calories that you may not want. Fruit and vegetable juices are good because they have vitamins and minerals (read labels, however -- vegetable juices may be high in sodium). Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee count too, but remember that consuming too much caffeine can make you feel jittery.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

No meat, no dairy, no problem

Physical activity and school performance: A closer look

Extra calories, low protein are culprits in weight gain

Are health ads targeting ‘fat kids’ too much?

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.