May 2015 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 7, Issue 5]

Playing With Food

Although we’ve always been told to have good tables manners and not play with our food, it turns out that making food more fun may be one way to get picky eaters to relax and try to new things.

Playing with food may help preschoolers become less picky eaters

This news story from Reuters Health describes a study in which researchers buried toys in mashed potatoes or jelly and found that kids who didn’t mind getting their hands all messy were less likely to shy away from new foods.

The authors of the study suggest using food as art is a good way to start – this might make for some fun school projects too.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about picky eating and why it’s important to try new foods.
  • Try something similar at school – make a game of it.
  • Have kids make up games or fun food challenges they can take home to their families.
Junk Food Babies

Junk food consumption is common among older kids and adults, but according to studies, it’s not unusual for babies to eat junk foods as well. While an occasional treat is okay, could this be setting the babies up for bad habits as they get older?

Kids are eating junk food before they reach their second birthday, says USDA researcher

This news story published by Food Navigator explains that 43 percent of American babies between the ages of 12 to 23 months eat cookies, cakes or pastries on any given day. And about 32 percent of American babies eat things like popcorn and chips.  In addition, babies are being fed candy, soda and fruit or sports drinks.

The news story also looks at snacking trends and intakes of added sugar. Boys and young men seem to get the most added sugar.
Kindergarten Kids, Obesity and Family Income

Obesity rates among kindergarten kids have increased over the last couple of decades – at least for most kids. But, it turns out that obesity rates for kindergarteners from the wealthiest families have not changed.

Obesity disparity grew among U.S. kindergarteners

This news story from Reuters Health describes the findings of a new study that looked at the obesity rates of little kids based on socioeconomic groups. In general, the poorest 60 percent of children were more likely to be obese while the wealthiest 20 percent were less likely to be obese.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Focus on nutritious foods and getting more exercise.
  • As a class project, have older kids come up with ideas to teach younger kids about being healthy.
Omega-3s and Behavior

Omega-3 fatty acids are those wonderful healthy fats found in fish oil may help reduce behavioral problems in kids. These important fats are essential for brain development. Also important is knowing that omega-3s must come from the diet, the human body can’t make them.

Omega-3 seen to reduce behavioral problems in children

This story from United Press International describes a study from the University of Pennsylvania, which found that kids who were given omega-3 supplements also had fewer behavioral issues, according to their parents.

What to do at school:

  • Explain why omega-3s are important to brain development.
  • Talk about the omega-3 sources – fish and seafood are best, but canola oil, flax seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are also good sources.
  • Have students look for healthy recipes that feature omega-3 sources.
A Garden at School

Kids who grow vegetables are more likely to eat them. That’s true with home gardens and school gardens. Basically, one of the best ways to get kids to eat their veggies is to get them involved – either in growing, buying or preparing them.

Growing interest: School-grown vegetables increase salad selection

This news story from Science Daily describes a pilot study published by Cornell University. The idea was simple enough – start a vegetable garden at school and add those veggies to school lunch salads.

And, sure enough, more kids ate the salads and increased their veggie intake.  This was just a pilot study, but maybe this will boost the idea of growing vegetables at schools. Does your school have room for a garden?
Parents May Not Realize Their Kids Are Overweight

This is really a difficult thing to talk to parents about, and you need a lot of sensitivity.  But, parents often think their young kids are at ‘about the right weight’ even though they’re overweight or obese.

Parents often misperceive their obese children as 'about the right weight'

This story from Science Daily describes a study from New York University that finds most parents of overweight preschoolers believe their kids are at a healthy weight. Why does this matter? Basically, kids who are overweight or obese are more likely to be obese as adults, and that means lots of health risks.
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More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

CDC: 1 in 10 Children Diagnosed With ADHD

10 Foods You’re Probably Eating Wrong

Five words you should stop using when you talk about food

What should we think about Vitamin D?

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.