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

[Volume 4, Issue 5]

Walk To School or Join a Team

There are usually two important factors for being overweight and obese. One is consuming too many calories and the other is being less active.  This goes for adults and for kids. A new study looks at kids’ weight and activity.

Walking to school, sports tied to teen weight

Here’s a story about a research study that focused on teens, their weight and if they walked to school or were on athletic teams. They studied kids in Vermont and New Hampshire for seven years and it turns out the kids who walked to school or were on two or more athletic teams were more likely to be at a healthy weight.

What you can do for your students:

  • Get kids interested in sports. Add intramural athletics in larger schools.
  • Increase physical activity and teach kids how to be more physically active at home.
  • Ask students to determine which types of physical activities burn the most calories and do reports or posters.
Is Watching Television To Blame?

When I was a kid the main form of electronic entertainment was the television. These days I’m sure computers and video game systems attract kids’ attention too. But for little kids, watching too much television may set a pattern of inactivity that leads to problems later on.

Study: More TV linked to larger waists, weaker legs for kids

Actually there have been a number of studies that associate watching television with being less active and more likely to be overweight. Here’s an article that discusses a new Canadian study where the researchers used specific physical measurements other than weight or body mass index. They measured waist girth and leg strength, and it turns out kids who watched more television had bigger bellies and weaker thighs.

Why did they choose leg strength and waist girth? Leg strength is a good overall indicator of fitness and muscle strength – kids who watched more TV, even as little kids, tended to have weaker legs. Waist girth is important for heart health. The bigger your belly, the more likely you are to have heart problems.

What to do at school:
  • Have younger students keep track of how many hours they watch TV on a chart to see if they limit their TV-watching.
  • Test leg strength in physical education class, design programs to get kids more fit.
  • Prepare materials to give to parents during parent-teacher conferences. Explain how inactivity isn’t good for a child’s health.
Beige Fat

Did you know you have different types of fat cells? Most of your fat is typical adipose tissue, but a little bit of your fat is called brown fat. What makes brown fat interesting is that it’s metabolically active – it actually burns calories, as opposed to regular fat that basicially just sits there. Scientists have known about brown fat for years, hoping someday to find a way to increase the amount of brown fat, which could help fight obesity.

Scientists have a way to go on the hunt for making more brown fat, but along that way, they’ve discovered beige fat, which is an intermediate type of fat.

Newly identified ‘beige fat’ cells could help fight obesity

This article describes beige fat and explains why having more beige fat may help you lose total fat. Hormones released during physical exercise or when you shiver trigger the conversion of regular fat cells to beige fat. Beige fat, like brown fat, is metabolically active and burns calories even after you’re done exercising.
Hot Weather Safety

It’s still summer (and a hot one at that) so it’s important to stay cool and hydrated in when you’re out in the heat.  It also helps to wear light clothing and stay somewhere cool, and when it gets too hot and humid, it may be time to cut back on the outdoor exercise.

Safety tips for hot summer days

This article explains why being out in the heat can be dangerous, and even life-threatening for certain people. It includes several tips for staying safe in hot weather.
Kids In the Kitchen

One excellent way to get kids interested in eating healthier foods is to get them cooking. Children are more likely to eat healthier foods if they have a hand in choosing or preparing them. 

Kids who cook are hungrier for healthy food choices

This article describes a study involving 5th grade students in Alberta, Canada.  The students who helped out in the kitchen were more likely to eat fruits and vegetables (especially fruits).  The kids who cook also seemed to understand why eating healthier foods is important.

Help out at school:
  • Teach kids how to prepare simple meals and snacks.
  • Prepare at-home lessons so kids can cook with their parents.
  • Talk about choosing healthy ingredients and help kids find recipes.
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Why You Need Water or Other Fluids

You need water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to your organs and tissues. It also helps transport oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs. Taking in too litter water or losing too much water leads to dehydration. Symptoms of mild dehydration include thirst, pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches and constipation.
A strong odor to your urine, along with a yellow or amber color, may indicate that you may not be getting enough water.

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. Lost fluids must be replaced every day.

How much water do you need to drink? At least twenty percent of the water you need comes from the foods you eat. The rest comes from the beverages you drink. Some experts believe you can estimate the amount of water you need by taking your weight in pounds and dividing that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces you may want to drink each day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you might want to drink at least 80 ounces of water or other fluids per day. Other factors include amount of physical activity and the climate where you are located.

Water is probably the best choice for rehydration because it's cheap and has no calories or added ingredients. Sweetened soft drinks and sodas have added sugar that adds extra calories but no additional nutritional value. Sports drinks contain minerals that may help keep your electrolytes in balance, which is good for recovering after a hard work out, but look out for added sugar and calories that you may not want. Fruit and vegetable juices can be a good choice because they have vitamins and minerals your body needs (read labels, however -- vegetable juices may be high in sodium). Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee count too, but too much caffeine can make you feel jittery.
More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

Almonds may have 20 percent fewer calories than previously thought

Moms' caffeine not tied to kids' behavior problems

Nutritionists, health activists say better behavior is more effective in weight loss than playing the blame game

In dieting, magic isn't a substitute for science

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/) and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/). She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students and fundamentals of nutrition to undergrads at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.