A month ago we had a blog discussion pertaining to kids nutrition and I feel it is worth re-addressing. This article has some great ideas and techniques to aid in the health of today’s youth and for very good reason. Personally, I greatly underestimated the severity of our current situation with the health of Americans of all ages.

There is a new TV show called Food Revolution with chef Jamie Oliver where Oliver looks to help change the food distributed at local schools and promote kids to take an initiative in the quality of their own diets. If you have not seen the show, I would highly recommend it. He has a unique approach which seems quite effective.

On Oliver’s website, he offers some facts and figures about the current health issues facing America, which you can find here.

A couple of the facts that stood out to me include:

– “Obesity, and with it diabetes, are the only major health problems that are getting worse in this country, and they’re getting worse rapidly”
CDC Director Thomas Frieden, told the Weight of the Nation Conference in July 2009.

– After smoking, obesity is America’s biggest cause of premature death

– Today’s generation of children are predicted to be the first which will die at a younger age than their parents due to obesity-related bad health.

-8% of the population, 24 million people, in the US have diabetes (of which more than 90% is type 2).

-Type 2 diabetes is the problem. It used to be an adult disease, appearing over age 40, but it is increasingly being found in teenagers, even children as young as eight.

SCHOOL LUNCHES

I distinctly remember my personal experience of school lunches full of french fries, chicken rings and nuggets, nutty bars, and 50 cent sodas. How about 50 cents for a corn dog or three dollars for the salad bar? Little did I know that in fact these foods were not the healthiest options. Apparently I was not alone. According to Oliver, ”
31 million American children eat lunch at school, funded through USDA’s Child Nutrition Program. It was set up after the war to feed hungry children and deal with surplus agricultural commodities.” Now this all seems well and good but what happens when the food quality drops as the cost increases for healthier alternatives.

“The School Nutrition Association estimates it costs more like $3 to produce lunch – still cheaper than a cappuccino at Starbucks – but schools have to find the extra money, and often it comes from the sale of nutritionally poor foods sold through vending machines and snack lines. ”

I challenge you to consider what your kids are eating and what you can do to help prepare them for a healthier future. There are many examples of alternatives to “cheese zombies” and Chef by Request is only one of these options. Here are a few additional ideas- Healthy tips for kids nutrition If you yourself, or someone you know, has diabetes we have programs in place that can help. Check out the Chef By Request website for more information on availability and pricing.

If you are interested in the health profile of your community, check out the USDA’s Food Atlas website

I would love your feedback and further ideas on how to help kids, or adults, pay attention to their nutrition and diet.

-Karl Norelius

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