Tag Archives: Healthy Children

Troublemaker Kids May Just be Sleep Deprived

Eradicating the ever-present problem of bullies may lie in establishing proper sleeping habits for children. The New York Times reported that a new study of over 300 elementary students in Michigan revealed a correlation between sleep-disturbances and behavioral instability. Louise O’brien, the study’s lead author, cautions that the findings don’t prove lack of sleep causes bullying but it certainly implies a relationship between the two.

Other studies have yielded similar findings. We’ve known for a long time now that proper sleep habits affect both mental and physical health. Fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, weakened concentration, memory loss,  and impaired immunity can all be caused by insufficient sleep. What to do if your child isn’t sleeping well:


The Right Way to Fuel Your Child Athlete

I’ve had kids playing sports for more than 15 years (just typing that out makes me feel so, so old) and time and again, I’ve noticed one thing that just about every practice or game has in common.

Junk food.

Doesn’t that surprise you? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Admittedly, I’m a self confessed health food aficionado – although I have been known to dig into some french fries time and again – but I really have a hard time with the foods that many kids are offered after a difficult game. My kids have been given corn chips, candy bars, fruit snacks, squishy fruit punch pouches and even sodas. Rarely are there healthy choices offered.

I’ve been the team mom many times, and although I have often requested that healthier snacks be offered, the overwhelming concern is that kids just won’t eat them. A Sports Moms Study, funded by PepsiCo, found that more than 70% of moms are raising kids in competitive sports. The study found that sports moms spend 1/3 more time and more than twice as much money across their children’s extracurricular activities than those families without kids in sports. According to the study, the area in which most moms feel that they have the highest level of influence is their athlete’s nutrition. (more…)

Fast Food Companies Fight Back Against Toy Bans in Kids’ Meals

When I was a little kid, I wanted to go to McDonald’s every week to get the newest Happy Meal toy. Sure, the food was yummy, but my main motivation was definitely the toy. Now, toys in Happy Meals and other fast food meals are facing extinction as new legislation is attempting to decrease childhood obesity in our country spreads from San Francisco to other cities, such as New York City.

Many activists – including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, and obesity experts at Tufts University – are claiming that the toys used to promote children’s fast food meals are a main contributor to the childhood obesity epidemic. They claim that these toys encourage children to eat unhealthier meals, such as chicken nuggets and french fries.

Although this can be the case at times (as it was for me when I was younger), banning these restaurants from using toys to promote their products does not seem right to me. McDonald’s, Sonic, and several other fast food restaurants have started offering milk and juice with their kids’ meals instead of soda. They are also offering apple slices instead of french fries. When it comes down to it, it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor what their child eats; the parents allow their children to order sugary sodas and fattening french fries. Banning restaurants from using promotional items will not stop parents from buying their children unhealthy foods.


Doctors Turning Away Obese Pregnant Women

According to the Sun Sentinel in South Florida, 15 obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 that the newspaper polled make it a practice to turn away pregnant patients who exceed a predetermined weight limit.

As disturbing as this may sound, doing so is not illegal. Some doctors say that their main motivation is that their tables can’t handle obese patients, but considering the fact that some of those polled have said their starting weight limit is 200 pounds, that reasoning doesn’t hold much water.

When it comes down to it, the real reason for refusing obese patients is fear of legal action due to the potential medical complications associated with obesity. According to the Sun Sentinel, at least six doctors have said this is their reason for avoiding obese patients. (more…)

Weight Watchers’ Cooking with Kids Series Helps Families Bond in the Kitchen

Every parent knows how important it is to teach their kids to eat right and lead healthy lives, but it isn’t always easy. Recently, Weight Watchers launched its first-ever online “Cooking With Kids” video series, which brings to life teachable moments to help kids value fresh and healthy foods to instill good eating habits at an early age.

“When most people think of ‘kid food’ they think of pizza, chicken fingers and French fries, ” said Theresa DiMasi, Editor-in-Chief of WeightWatchers.com. “One of our goals is to show our readers that there is no such thing as ‘kid food.’ We want to introduce kids to wholesome, natural foods.”

With the help of renowned chef Lidia Bastianich and chocolatier Jacques Torres, Weight Watchers has produced a series of videos featuring real kids who go behind-the-scenes to learn the art of selecting fresh foods at the market and preparing them in nutritious, tasty foods.  From homemade pasta to roasting cocoa beans for chocolate, kids get hands-on experience and learn the value of healthful eating.


Best and Worst Easter Basket Candies

by Kelsey Murray

For many people, Easter is a religious holiday that causes them to meditate on the sacrifices their Creator made for them. For most children, however, Easter is all about the Bunny and the candy. For the parents of these children, Easter is about sugar-highs and trips to the dentist.

If you are a parent and want to give your children healthier candies and chocolates this year (or if you just have a sweet tooth yourself), consider these Easter sweets instead of your usual standbys.

Dark Chocolate Covered Nuts. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, and other nuts provide healthy fats that are essential for your body to function properly. Dark chocolate provides antioxidants while also lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol and boosting your mood (every woman knows that chocolate has magic mood-lifting powers). The combination of nuts and dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) usually weighs in at 210 calories per 1.4 ounces while also providing 8 percent of your daily dietary fiber.


Should You Put a Child on a Diet?

Recently, I was profiled in Redbook magazine, answering the question, “Should you put your child on a diet?” My reply was yes.

I’m not advocating starting your eight year old in the Weight Watchers plan, packing the lunchbox with Slim-Fast shakes and enrolling your daughter in a prepared meal plan. I’m also not advocating counting calories with your child, focusing on the number on the scale, or instructing her on weighing out her meals. Rather, I want to talk about helping your child to be healthy, and in some cases, this does mean keeping an eye on her weight.

One of my own daughters began to look a bit heavy. At her 6 year old pediatric check up, her doctor told me that she was getting too heavy and she illustrated this by comparing her growth curve on the chart. She told me that I needed to begin to keep an eye on her portions. I decided that I would begin an experiment. Without telling my daughter what I was doing – because I had no desire to call her attention to the issue – I decreased her portion sizes slightly. She had been eating a little bit more than she probably should have been, and had also become fairly sedentary due to an exceptionally rough winter. It’s tough to get out there when it’s cold and wet all the time.


Teach Your Kids to Eat Healthy Foods

When you say the words, “kids” and “healthy foods,” do you quake  a little inside? Do you secretly laugh, thinking to yourself that the two concepts just don’t mesh? Do you bemoan the fact that your kid, when pressed for a vegetable choice, picks french fries every time? Do you think to yourself, “Well, maybe he’ll eat vegetables when he’s a grown up?”

These are all things that people have said to me when I ask about the eating habits of their children. Many parents despair, give up and forget about offering healthy foods. They stick with so called “kid foods” – Pop Tarts, Lunchables, sodas and chips. In reality, children do often have more finicky palates and less tolerant taste buds. It can take a lot of time and encouragement, but these difficulties can definitely be overcome. Here are some tried and true tips to improve your children’s dietary habits.


Childhood Junk Food Linked to Lower I.Q. Scores

The brain grows most rapidly during the first three years of a child’s life, and so it stands to reason that the foods a child eats during that time are of utmost importance. A recent study confirms this. The long term health and well being of around 14,000 children born in 1991 and 1992 is being followed by a group known as ALSPAC, or Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. All together, data was compiled for just over 4,000 children.

Parents were given questionnaires to complete, requesting documentation of the types and frequency of the food and drink their children consumed when they were 3, 4, 7 and 8.5 years old. Overall, three basic dietary patterns were identified: “processed” (high in fats and sugar intake), “traditional” (high in meat and vegetable intake), and “health conscious” (high in salad, fruit and vegetables, rice and pasta). The I.Q. of all participants was measured using the standard Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children when they were 8 years old. Numerical scores were calculated for each child.


How the New Dietary Guidelines Affect Your Children

Every five years, the  USDA and Department of Health and Human Services work together to update the Dietary Guidelines to reflect changing and new research. This is the year that the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been released, and the changes were minimal for the most part, although there was an additional emphasis on addressing the ever increasing obesity epidemic. There was a special section devoted to the health and well being of our children.

To illustrate how times have changed for our children, let’s take a look at the rates of obesity and how they have increased. In 1970, less than 5% of all children were classified as obese. In 2011, that figure has doubled. Similar rates of increase were seen for most other age groups. The most shocking increase was seen in children ages 6-11, a group which showed an increase of 400%, jumping from just 4% to more than 20%.