Healthy School Lunch Tips

As parents, we do our best to make sure that our children eat healthy when they are with us. This includes preparing well-balanced meals for them and saying “no” when they want to overindulge on junk food.

Keeping an eye on what our kids eat can be a difficult enough task when they are in our presence, but the task is even harder when they aren’t – like when they are in school.

Most children spend an average of six hours a day in school. It is estimated that half of their daily caloric intake is consumed while at school, therefore it is important to make sure that they receive proper nutrition during this time.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States. The number of children and teens classified as obese has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that one out of every five school-age children in the U.S. fits this criteria.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Jamaica Hospital wants to raise awareness about this growing problem and the serious consequences associated with it. Obesity puts children at greater risk of developing many other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal-weight peers and they are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.

The good news is the childhood obesity is preventable. One way to reduce your child’s chances of becoming obese is to make sure they eat healthy at school. So, whether your child packs lunch or their school provides lunch for them, there are a few things you can do to make sure they are eating healthy during the school day.

SCHOOL LUNCH TIPS
If your child opts to receive the school provided lunch, do your homework and make sure their school is offering a healthy menu.  Many school districts across the country have changed their lunch menu to meet the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) standards. This includes providing children with the appropriate food portions with a concentration on more fruits and vegetables, increased whole grains and fat-free or low-fat options.

Also, check your school’s website as it often lists the menu for the month. If your child is a picky eater or has food allergies, knowing in advance what days he or she may not eat school lunch will help you prepare an alternate plan.  If getting out the door in the morning is a problem, consider signing your child up for school breakfast too as starting the day off with a good breakfast has many benefits.

PACKING LUNCH TIPS
If your child prefers to bring lunch from home make sure to have a variety of healthy options at home for them to bring to school. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and snacks with reduced saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.  Sometimes coming up with healthy options can be a challenge; if so, there are many websites that offer a variety of ideas for parents of even the most finicky eaters.

To help ensure that you plan wisely, avoid packing lunches in the morning when you might be in a rush. Instead, try preparing them the night before when you have more time to select the healthiest options. It is also important to make sure to have foods packed at appropriate temperatures. This may include inserting ice packs for yogurt or other dairy items or a thermos for chicken soup or other hot lunch options.

It is important to remember that whether parents choose to have their children buy school lunch or pack a lunch for them, they need to set a good example in the home by eating healthy themselves. Parents should also take the time to teach their children about what foods are healthy and why it is important to maintain a well-balanced diet.

Working together with your school system, you can ensure that your child will receive the proper nutrition this school year, which will benefit both their body and their mind.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month – an observance that coincides with the return of children to the classroom. This convergence of events leads many parents to ask one question, “how can I ensure that my child receives a nutritious diet now that they are back in school?”

Obesity rates among children have tripled over the past three decades. It’s now estimated that 16% of children are classified as obese. It is also estimated that children who are obese are ten times more likely to become obese as adults than other children. Since most children consume half of their daily caloric intake while in school, concentrating on providing them with a healthy and balanced diet while they are there is essential in the battle against obesity.

For many parents, the decision of whether to pack lunch from home or buy lunch from school is a difficult one. Some parents question the nutritional value of school lunches. Parents who have this concern should know that in recent years, schools have implemented new standards for the nutritional value of meals to align with U.S. dietary guidelines. Processed lunches that used to be high in fat, sugar, and sodium have been replaced with meals that meet or exceed national standards. School meals now also feature a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low or fat-free milk.

For those who still opt to pack their child’s lunch, they can improve their child’s diet and reduce their chances of becoming obese by following some simple tips:

  • Choose whole wheat breads instead of white bread when making sandwiches
  • Use fresh fruits instead of canned or processed alternatives
  • Fill a sandwich bag with something other than a sandwich. There are many other food options for your kids to snack on, such as carrots, nuts, granola, or raisins.
  • Initiate a salad day. Prepare the basics the night before and have your child choose some toppings including sliced chicken or turkey or low-fat cheese.
  • Introduce wraps as an option to a boring old sandwich. Give it extra flavor by coating with a low-fat spread and fill it with lettuce and protein.  You can cut the wrap into pinwheel slices for fun.
  • Invest in a thermos and fill it up with mac and cheese or your child’s favorite soup, stew or pasta.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of water instead of sugary juice boxes or soda. Sugary drinks are considered one of the leading causes of childhood obesity.

Whether your child buys or packs lunch, it’s important to stay involved. Talk to them about what food choices they made and discuss the many benefits eating a healthy diet has on both their mind and body.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Babyfat or Obesity?

Very funny baby watching her weight, isolated on white

In many cases efforts to curb childhood obesity are aimed at children who are school-aged.  However, new research suggests that interventions directed towards this group may be too late.

The most recent evidence indicates that pivotal times to introduce preventative efforts in your child’s life are during infancy and the toddler years.

According to experts, there are several measures you can take to prevent obesity and keep your baby at a healthy weight.

The Mayo Clinic recommends:

  • Monitor your weight gain during pregnancy.Excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase a baby’s birth weight. Research suggests that as birth weight increases, so does the risk of childhood obesity.
  • Breast-feed.Some research suggests that breast-feeding reduces the risk of childhood obesity.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened drinks.Juice isn’t a necessary part of a baby’s diet. As you start introducing solid foods, consider offering nutritious fruits and vegetables instead.
  • Experiment with ways to soothe your baby.Don’t automatically turn to breast milk or formula to quiet your baby’s cries. Sometimes a new position, a calmer environment or a gentle touch is all that’s needed.
  • Limit media use.The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than age 2. The more TV your child watches, the greater his or her risk is of becoming overweight.

It is important to keep in mind that your child needs a diet that is high in healthy fats to foster growth during infancy and caloric restrictions aimed at reducing weight is not recommended for babies under the age of two.  It is highly suggested that you speak to your doctor about age-appropriate dietary guidelines before implementing any changes.

If you feel that you child may be overweight or you would like more information about childhood obesity, please contact Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 to make an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Senator Comrie and Jamaica Hospital -Promoting Wellness Through Walking

Walk Park

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Community Outreach Department applaud the steps Senator Leroy Comrie is taking to prevent childhood and adult obesity by promoting healthier lifestyle options that include walking.

Obesity is a problem that affects many Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approximately one-third, or 78.6 million Americans are obese. In addition, 17%, or 12.7 million children are obese. Obesity is a leading cause of a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer

Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes physical activity, in combination with a healthy diet is the best way to combat obesity. While many forms of physical activity require time and financial commitments that many of us do not have, one of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of physical activity is through walking.

Walking is very important for weight control. Of course, the more you walk and the quicker your pace, the more calories you’ll burn.  Generally speaking, by adding 30 minutes of brisk walking to your daily routine, you could burn approximately 150 calories a day. If you walk at a more vigorous pace and for a longer duration of time, you can burn even more calories and lose even more weight.

Senator Leroy Comrie and other local elected officials understand the importance of promoting physical activity to combat obesity, so together they created the “Walk for Wellness” event. This second annual series of walks are held in various parks and playgrounds through Southeast Queens on select Saturdays. The walks began in June and continue into October. Each walk begins at 8:30 a.m. and is open to all.

According to Senator Comrie, “The Walk for Wellness event was created to be a community-wide initiative to combat obesity. By supporting one another in this effort, we can really make a difference by improving our health and the health of our neighbors.”

Of course, if you have underlying health issues, speak to a doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you do not have a doctor, you can call Jamaica Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment to determine how much walking is appropriate for you.

To learn more about the Walk for Wellness event, please call Senator Comrie’s office at 718-454-0162.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity affects approximately one in five children in the United States. Obesity is measured by taking a child’s body-mass index (BMI) and evaluating where this number falls on a BMI age-growth chart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed a table to make it possible to compare the BMI with those of other children of the same age and height. Other factors that need to be considered are the type of body frame, musculature, and the child’s development pattern.

There are many reasons why a child may become obese. Often obese children come from families where there are poor eating habits, and lack of physical activity. Other contributing factors can include stress, boredom, and depression as well as living in a community with limited accessibility to healthy food choices.

Obesity in children puts them at risk of developing chronic illnesses later in life such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, arthritis, and heart disease. It also makes children more prone to depression, low self-esteem and susceptible to bullying.

Ways to control a child’s weight include:

  • Limit fast food
  • Increase fruits and vegetables in the diet
  • Limit sweet drinks
  • Limit desserts and unhealthy snacks
  • Eat together as a family when possible
  • Regulate portion sizes
  • Increase physical activity, not just exercise
  • Decrease the amount of time spent watching TV or on the computer

Jamaica Hospital strives to help prevent childhood obesity by participating in workshops throughout the year at schools and at community health fairs by providing educational materials and guidance on proper nutrition. To speak with a pediatrician about childhood obesity, please call 718-206-7001 to schedule an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.