May 2011 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 2, Issue 4]

Weight Loss Programs for Students

Maybe eating too much too often and exercising too little are habits. Bad habits. And if they’re habits, maybe they can be broken and replaced with healthier habits, like eating less, choosing healthier foods, drinking more water and exercising more often.

It isn’t easy to break any bad habit and replace it with one that’s better, especially on your own. It seems to be easier if you have a support system – professionals who explain why you need healthier habits and teach you how to change. And social support is important too. It’s not easy to say no to a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake when you’re friends are choosing them too.
Weight loss program teaches students healthy habits.


This article describes a weight loss program available for Kelly Walsh high school students in Casper, Wyoming.    The program involves a personal trainer, a dietician, and a counselor.  Students are given gym memberships for 12 weeks and taught how to use the facilities.  So far, the results have been promising.


The program isn’t totally about losing weight; it’s about eating healthy foods and getting active.  Students learn how to choose healthier foods and they also learn how to manage their time so they can get exercise into their weekly routines.

It’s a great idea and I wonder if schools in other cities can set up similar programs:

  • See if you can team with dieticians and personal trainers in your area to work with students.
  • Or combine the talents of your Phys Ed., Health, and Home Ec. teachers to design a similar program.
  • Start with younger kids – talk about habits, which ones are good and which ones are not.
School Lunch Or Else?

We all want our kids to eat healthy at lunchtime and it’s a shame to find the garbage cans filled with the good foods the kids wouldn’t eat.  But how far can a school go in lunchtime requirements?  In one Chicago school, they’ve banned bagged lunches.

Chicago school bans some lunches brought from home.,0,4567867.story

Kids at Little Village Academy in Chicago are not allowed to bring their own lunches to school unless they have a medical reason not to eat the cafeteria food.  The school principal’s intention was to improve how kids eat – six years ago she got tired of seeing  many of her students eat junk food and sodas every day for lunch – so she decided to ban most bag lunches.

Is it working?  I’m not sure – according to the article, the kids throw away a lot of the food that they should be eating and aren’t too happy about the ban.  Another elementary school in Chicago allows kids to bring their own lunches but they don’t

get to keep any sugary or salty snack foods they bring with them, but they may give them back after school. 

Some kids at other schools say they would hate the ban because they would want to bring healthier foods than what their schools give them.  What do you think about banning bagged lunches?
Parents as Role Models

Kids look to their parents to learn how to eat. When parents eat right, their children are more likely to choose healthier foods like fruits and vegetables and whole grains, even when they’re not at home. Likewise, if the kitchen is full of greasy chips, cookies and sugary sodas, the kids are going to learn how to eat junk foods. Teaching good eating habits are something parents need to think about.

Heart Smart: Parents are their kids’ best nutrition role models.

This article from the Detroit Free Press describes some ways parents can be good nutrition role models for their own children.  The advice starts with eating a good breakfast, which is important for learning.  Other tips include valuing family mealtime and not to use foods as bribery.

Great tips and I can add a few more:

  • Stock your kitchen with healthy foods, not junk foods.
  • Make sure your young kids see you eating healthy foods – it makes a good impression.
  • Get kids into the kitchen – even little kids can help prepare meals – take care with utensils, keep the activities age-appropriate.
Bacteria in Our Meat

Most of us buy our meats from a local grocery store and we probably think more about E. coli and not the scarier drug-resistant bacteria, but there’s a good chance the meat we buy is contaminated with it.  Do we need to worry about it?  Does the meat industry contribute to antibiotic resistance?

Drug-resistant staph in meat – and what consumers need to keep in mind.

Drug-resistant Staphylocuccus aureus may be present in up to half of the meat found in our grocery stores.  Any illness due to toxins released by the bacteria is unlikely as long as you follow standard food safety procedures.  The bigger problem is the possibility of skin infection from handling the raw meat.  Experts suggest that if you handle raw meat and have any cuts or scrapes on your hands, you should wear gloves, or wash your hands thoroughly right after handling raw meat.

It seems like there’s some type of recall or concern about foodborne illness many times each year; but you can help your students by teaching them about food safety:
  • All foods and cooking classes should have presentations on food safety.
  • Health teachers may bring up food safety basics during infection disease classes.
  • Young students should be taught the importance of washing their hands before eating or handling food.

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Spinach - Superfood

Spinach is a dark green leafy vegetable that is rich in minerals and vitamins.  It’s a good source of calcium and magnesium that your body needs for strong bones and teeth, normal muscle and nerve function and for proper blood clotting.  Spinach is also a good source of iron, magnesium and potassium, while being low in sodium (and in calories).

Spinach contains several vitamins too, such as folate, vitamin C, and vitamin K.  It’s also rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene that your body converts into vitamin A, and lutein, which may help to protect you from age-related macular degeneration.

You'll find fresh raw spinach in the produce section of your grocery store, usually near the other leafy greens. Cooked and canned spinach is available in the canned vegetable aisle and the freezer section will have frozen cooked spinach. Raw spinach works well as green for salads (be sure to wash raw spinach, even when you buy it 'pre-washed' and bagged), or you can cook the spinach and use it as a side dish. Frozen and canned spinach can be heated and served or can be used as ingredients in a variety of dishes.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Tips for teaching healthy habits to young children

Crave Caffeine? It May Be in Your Genes

ADA Survey Shows More Families Eating at Home

Is the National School Lunch Program to blame (in part) for the rise of childhood obesity?,0,5267019.story

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