Childhood Obesity Awareness Month Blog Carnival
This article was written for inclusion in the blog carnival hosted by Littlestomaks to promote awareness of childhood obesity as part of the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Please read to the end of this article to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Henry learned to make sushi at kindergarten through a program called Local Matters, which the school discontinued due to lack of funding.
Last summer, in the months before Henry started kindergarten, the reality of him being away all day was sinking in. And because I’m a dietitian and think about food for a living, I thought about lunchtime.
Henry would be eating lunch there without me—to give him more dip for his carrots, to ask if he wanted peach or strawberry jelly on his PB&J, to see if he ate his banana. I could ask him to buy white milk instead of chocolate, but he made the choice. I could no longer shield him from learning about Lunchables. I couldn’t give him another 10 minutes of playtime to burn off extra energy.
It was Henry’s first taste of independence (and I’m pretty sure it tasted a lot like chocolate milk). It was my first glimpse at how much influence school can have on a child’s physical health—and even their attitudes about food. Kids spend 32-plus hours at school every week, and that’s time that could make a real impact on childhood obesity.
When it comes to helping or hurting that cause, here’s how I think Henry’s school is doing:
A+ (The Good)
- They’re given time to run. Henry has two recess periods a day, and extra recess time (not candy) has been used as a classroom reward for good behavior.
- They’re challenged to eat well and move more. Each year, the school holds a Health Challenge. It’s similar to a read-a-thon but challenges kids to make positive changes to what they eat and how they spend their time. They get points for trying new fruits, helping with meal prep, playing outside, and extra-double-bonus points for skipping screen time and are awarded prizes that encourage activity, like passes to the skating rink and an indoor rock-climbing party.
C (The Not-So-Good)
- Lunch and breakfast have a long way to go. I like that string cheese and bagels are served at breakfast. I don’t like that blue Jell-o and Pop-Tarts are given equal billing. I love that the kids are offered salad and fresh fruit at lunchtime. Not so much that some sort of breaded chicken—in nugget, tender, or “popcorn” form—appears on the menu twice a week.
F (The Ugly)
- They lost Local Matters. Last year, educators came into every kindergarten and first grade class each week and taught the kids about food and nutrition. They talked about the Food Pyramid and made cuisines from around the world—like sushi, tabouleh, and salade nicoise. The kids loved it—even the pickiest eaters asked for second helpings of Jamaican black beans and rice. But alas, the program was pulled from the school this year due to lack of funding.
What grade would you give your child’s school—and why?
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
7 Things Parents Say That Cause Eating and Weight Problems in Kids Michelle May, Physician and author of Eat What You Love Love What You Eat, highlights a few things parents say which can have unintended consequences (@EatWhatYouLove)
Childhood Obesity Kia Robertson of Today I Ate a Rainbow suggests that prevention of childhood obesity should start with education and educating parents about basics of healthy eating by breaking it into achievable parts (@eatingarainbow)
Childhood Obesity: A Reality Check Dr Susan Rubin, founder of BSF, suggests we change our approach to looking at childhood obesity (@DrSuRu)
Childhood Obesity: Prevention Starts in Infancy Nutrition expert Sarah Fennel reminds us that prevention is the best cure and offers a few tips to raise healthy eaters (@FoodFunHealth)
Giving Our Children a Chance at Health Registered dietitian Susan Dopart offers tips to parents for taking charge of their child’s health in the world of over-processed “kid foods” (@smnutritionist)
Healthy School Campaigns Works on Creating Healthy Food Environments A report on Chicago’s Healthy School Campaigns (HFC), a non profit dedicated to creating a healthy food environment in schools
How to Prevent and Manage Childhood Obesity Registered dietitian Jessica Levinson offers practical tips to prevent and manage childhood obesity (@JLevinsonRD)
Lessons I have Learned as a Mom Registered dietitian Alysa Bajenaru shares some of the lessons she has learned that have helped her develop a good understanding of what it takes to feed her kids (@InspiredRD)
Looking for a New Trend in Childhood Obesity? Registered dietitian Elizabeth Rahavi of the IFIC brings the focus back on family in the debate about childhood obesity (@FoodInsight)
Losing Weight: It Starts in Your Head Registered dietitian Cindy Williams reminds us of the power of attitude and mindset in losing weight and controlling obesity (@nutritionchic)
Making the Grade Registered dietitian Sally Kuzemchak evaluates her son’s school programs on healthy eating and physical activity (@RMNutrition)
Obesity and GERD: A Family Affair Jan Gambino, author of Reflux 101, writes about the link between overweight and GERD
Parents, Let’s Take a Positive Approach to Childhood Obesity Registered dietitian Ashley Rosales from the Dairy Council of California encourages parents to take a positive approach in helping their kids build healthy habits
Revolutionize the Way Your Kids Eat in Five Easy Steps Sociologist Dr Dina Rose suggests we shift our focus from nutrition to eating habits if we are serious about solving childhood obesity (@DrDrRose)
Surprising Easy Solution for Preventing Childhood Obesity Research shows benefits of extended breastfeeding in reducing risk of childhood obesity (@TwinToddlersDad)
The Problem Behind Childhood Obesity Ken Whitman, Publisher of Organic Connections, points out that our national priorities concerning childhood obesity are misplaced and calls for a renewed focus on the health of our nations kids.
Yoga Gets Kids Moving Registered dietitian Danielle Omar has an interesting suggestion for solving childhood obesity – get your kids into yoga! (@2eatwellRD)