March 2014 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 6, Issue 3]

Cholesterol Testing Goes Even Younger

Cholesterol levels are regularly assessed in adults (and have been for years) -- kids were really only tested when there was a health problem present.  But now some experts are calling for screening to begin at age 9.

Cholesterol test now recommended for kids 9 to 11

This news story from the Chicago Tribune discusses the American Academy of Pediatrics new guidelines that suggest that all children between the ages of 9 and 11 get their cholesterol levels checked.

About 40 percent of the U.S. population has cholesterol problems – and the associated heart disease risk, so the hope is that early screening will lead to early treatment when necessary.

Things to do at school:

  • In health class, talk about cholesterol, why the body needs it and what happens when blood levels are too high.
  • Teach kids about diet and how certain foods like nuts, fish, fruits and vegetables can help keep cholesterol levels healthy.
  • Talk about weight loss too.
What Does Healthy Mean for a Child?

We all like the word ‘healthy’ because we want to eat healthy foods and follow healthy exercise programs so we can be – healthy. And I think most of us have an idea of what ‘healthy’ feels and looks like – at least for adults.

But a news story asks what healthy means when it comes to young kids.

What does 'healthy' mean for my child?

According to this news story from CNN, it’s difficult to know when young children ‘look’ healthy and when they don’t. It can be difficult to tell if a child is at a healthy weight and if they’re eating right and getting enough exercise. We talk about it all the time, but do we really know what to look for?

The story also offers tips for helping kids establish healthy lifestyle habits, including help for picky eaters and tips for playing with your kids.
Five Second Rule May Be Accurate

The five-second rule is the notion that if you drop some food on the floor and pick it up quickly, the germs won’t have time to stick to it – so it’s safe to eat.

Most of us have assumed its an old wives’ tale. But a small study from England suggests the 5-second rule may be true.

‘Five-second’ food rule may be real, study finds

This news story from HealthDay describes the study. A microbiology professor and his students tracked how many germs were transferred onto toast, pasta, cookies and sticky candy after they were dropped on various types of flooring.

The findings? Time spent on the floor was important – it took more than five seconds for the microbes to migrate. And carpet was less likely to transfer germs than wood and laminate flooring. It’s only one study – but it’s food for thought.
What to do in school:
  • AP science class? Try to recreate the experiment.
  • Talk about this study to introduce the importance of food safety.
  • Have kids come up with other accepted notions about food and then go on an Internet search to find out what’s known about it.
Facebook and Risk for Eating Disorders

Social media is amazing. We can keep in touch with old friends and see what our kids are up to.  But what about all those pictures and selfies? Can they make it more difficult to deal with an eating disorder?

A study suggests a there may be a link between Facebook use and eating disorders.

Could more time on Facebook help spur eating disorders?

This news story from HealthDay describes a new study in which researchers investigated Facebook use among college-age women and found that women who used Facebook more often were also a little more likely to have eating disorders.  They were also more likely to untag themselves in unflattering photos.

This doesn’t mean Facebook use causes eating disorders – it could be that women who have eating disorders are more likely to spend time on Facebook. Either way, it’s an interesting connection.
Canned Veggies are Good for You

The conventional thought is that canned produce – like vegetables, legumes, and mushrooms – isn’t as nutritious as fresh. But fresh foods are more expensive and can go to waste. Maybe there’s more to know.

Study: Canned produce more affordable, just as nutritious as fresh

This news story from Food Navigator describes the findings of a new Michigan State University study that compared nutritional values and cost of fresh, frozen and canned produce. They found that canned vegetables were as nutritious as fresh, and were lower in cost.

Fruits may not have been as nutritious, but canned fruits tended to cost less than fresh or frozen foods, per cup.

What to do in foods class:

  • Have kids find recipes that use canned veggies as ingredients.
  • Or have them create new ways to enhance the flavor of canned produce.
  • Have students design a healthy meal with fresh veggies and one with canned veggies. Compare the differences in costs of each meal (go online to find grocery store prices).
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  • Ask us how today. Call 1-888-376-7136 or email
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How to Spot (and Prevent) Food Poisoning
The signs and symptoms of bacterial food poisoning, or 'foodborne illness,' include digestive system complaints and usually start within a few hours after you eat contaminated food. But they may take as long as a few days to start, depending on which bacteria are making you sick.
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • weakness
  • abdomen is tender to touch
  • dehydration
Infants and young children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems need medical attention for food poisoning. Anyone else should seek medical treatment if the food poisoning signs don't improve in a day or two.
The number of cases of food poisoning goes up during the summer months when the bacteria grow faster in the warmer temperatures. Since summer is a great time for picnics and barbecues, be sure to follow food safety rules for transporting and storing foods outdoors.

Prevent Food Poisoning

  • Wash your hands before cooking, before serving and before eating meals.
  • Keep raw meat, eggs, and poultry away from any other foods that are ready to be served.
  • Use clean knives, utensils and cutting boards, and don't cross contaminate raw meats and poultry with fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash fresh fruits, vegetables and bagged greens.
  • Keep cold food refrigerated under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hot foods should be kept at 140 degrees or above.
  • Beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
  • Pork and ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees.
  • Poultry needs to be cooked to 165 degrees.
  • Reheated food should be heated to 165 degrees before it's served.
Bacteria and More
Food poisoning is usually caused by bacteria, but ingesting poisonous foods -- such as certain mushrooms or shellfish, or eating seafood harvested from contaminated water -- can cause similar symptoms. These forms of food poisoning are an emergency, and you need treatment immediately.
Common types of bacteria involved in food poisoning:
  • E. coli
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Salmonella
  • Botulinum
  • Campylobacter
  • Cholera
  • Listeria
  • Shigella
More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

Sorting out the risk of fish

Nation's nutrition experts want kids to know eating right tastes good

Sweet, salty taste preferences tied together in kids

Weigh In: Distinguish nutrition facts from fiction

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 (, 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.