Eating Healthier at School Improves Learning

The Center for Disease control shared that kids learn better eating habits when schools provide healthy foods. Learn what you can do to promote nutritious foods at your school.

Most US children attend school for six hours a day and consume as much as half of their daily calories at school. Kids who eat healthy foods at school learn better lifelong eating habits and are readier to learn.

School Meal Programs

Schools play an important role in shaping lifelong healthy eating habits by offering meals with important nutrients. Many schools provide students with meals through federal school meal programs including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. All students can participate in school meal programs. Some students can receive free or reduced-price meals. School meals offer milk, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and key nutrients like calcium and fiber. Learn more about healthy eating in schools and the benefits of school meals.

Check out this info on the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement!

Nutrition and Academic Achievement

Healthy students are better learners. Research shows that nutrition affects student achievement. Student participation in the School Breakfast Program is associated with higher academic grades and standardized test scores, reduced absences, and improved memory. This fact sheet[480 KB] shows the connection between eating habits and academic grades. More information on the link between health and academic achievement can be found here.

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The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors

wrote for Tree Huggers that it comes as no surprise that kids these days are spending less time in nature than previous generations did, but it’s always alarming when casual observations are cemented by formal research. A new study out of North Carolina State University and Clemson University has found that middle-school students, even those living in rural areas, are spending more time indoors and less outdoors. The culprit? Screens.

Middle school, defined as grades six to eight, can be a tough time for many young people, with their lives becoming more structured, academic pressure mounting, and priorities shifting. Amid all these changes, the total time spent in nature starts slipping more rapidly than in earlier years. It affects several demographic groups more than others: girls, African-American students, and eighth graders are most likely to experience a reduction in outdoor time, whereas maintaining a connection to nature is highest among boys, White students, and sixth graders.

The study, published in the journal Environment and Behavior, analyzed the recreational activities of 543 middle-school students across rural South Carolina. While most of the students spent some time outdoors, more was spent on electronic media. This is concerning not only because of the negative effects of overexposure to media (for which evidence is continually mounting) but also because these kids are missing out on the positive benefits of being outdoors. Read more

Healthier Lifestyle for Children

College of DuPage Nursing Student Clare Mayer shared that wanting to be healthy is easy to say, but may not always be easy to do.  Children have busy schedules, and once homework is done, they often like to sit on the couch and turn on the TV, go in front of a computer, or get a bite to eat. Yet, each of these choices has potentially harmful effects on health. Healthy Kids (2018) suggests several strategies to help kids to stay active and healthy.

First, make time to exercise. Exercise does not have to mean weight lifting or strenuous activities. Exercise as simple as taking a walk, playing at a park, riding a bike, or any activities that involve physical work qualify as exercise. Kids love to explore; one idea that may be enjoyable is to visit a forest preserve so kids can walk around and look for treasures, cool looking rocks or leaves, interesting plants or nuts that have fallen from trees, or even little creatures, and some of these treasures they may even be able to bring home.

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5 Powerful Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity Right Now

Writer Pete Alman wrote for Healthy Lombard that since the 1970s, the number of children who struggle with childhood obesity has more than tripled. To put this another way, about one in five children between the age of 6 and 19 were obese according to 2015-2016 data. Unfortunately, these statistics have stayed just as alarming as time has gone on.

With these statistics in mind, it is absolutely crucial that we take steps to prevent childhood obesity. Luckily, that is possible. Childhood obesity isn’t something we just have to accept and move on. In fact, there are a handful of powerful ways that childhood obesity can be prevented.

What Is Childhood Obesity?

Before jumping into how to prevent childhood obesity, it’s important to define obesity. To put it as simple as possible, obesity is when someone has excess body fat. However, being slightly overweight does not automatically equate to obesity. In addition, there isn’t a single weight that stands as the line for obesity. Read more

Don’t forget to Display Your Teal Pumpkin Today!

Born out of one mom’s desire to help ensure that children with food allergies would not feel left out on Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project®, now in its fourth year as a national awareness campaign led by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), has spread far and wide – reaching millions across the U.S. and beyond — in an effort to help create a happier, safer Halloween for all.

For millions of children with food allergies and their parents, the Halloween trick-or-treating tradition can sometimes be fraught with anxiety because many candies that are handed out contain major food allergens such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety and inclusion for all trick-or-treaters by encouraging people to provide non-food treats on Halloween. A pumpkin painted teal, the color for food allergy awareness, signals that children will find a fun, non-food treat that anyone can enjoy.

“One in 13 children in the U.S. has at least one food allergy, and reports show that anaphylactic food reactions have climbed dramatically in recent years,” said Lois A. Witkop, Chief Advancement Officer at FARE. “It’s clear that food allergies are a serious public health issue that we all must take seriously. The Teal Pumpkin Project provides an opportunity for all of us to show empathy for kids who often feel excluded. We would love to see at least one teal pumpkin on every block – and it’s a terrific way for communities to come together to celebration inclusion.”

For Westlake, OH mom Vikki Meldrum, the Teal Pumpkin Project has already provided an unforgettable experience for her and her 4-year-old daughter Lyla. Meldrum spread the word about the initiative among her neighbors, who have now shown their support for the last two years, with at least 30 teal pumpkins in her own neighborhood. Read more

Healthy Kids Running Series

Healthy Lombard was proud to partner with Healthy Kids Running Series, a national, community-based non-profit that provides a fun, inclusive, five-week running series for ages 2-14 designed for kids to get active, experience accomplishment, and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

We look forward to working with them again next year.

They have another activity that kids can participate in right now!

They are hosting a Facebook Sharing Contest running through November 5th!  Anyone who enters will have the chance to win a brand new pair of New Balance 860v9 sneakers in their respective size and gender!

In order to enter, head over to Facebook, like the Healthy Kids Running Series page, and share the video pinned at the top of our page to your own timeline or page!!

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Have You Heard of Teal Pumpkin?

Born out of one mom’s desire to help ensure that children with food allergies would not feel left out on Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project®, now in its fourth year as a national awareness campaign led by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), has spread far and wide – reaching millions across the U.S. and beyond — in an effort to help create a happier, safer Halloween for all.

For millions of children with food allergies and their parents, the Halloween trick-or-treating tradition can sometimes be fraught with anxiety because many candies that are handed out contain major food allergens such as milk, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety and inclusion for all trick-or-treaters by encouraging people to provide non-food treats on Halloween. A pumpkin painted teal, the color for food allergy awareness, signals that children will find a fun, non-food treat that anyone can enjoy.

“One in 13 children in the U.S. has at least one food allergy, and reports show that anaphylactic food reactions have climbed dramatically in recent years,” said Lois A. Witkop, Chief Advancement Officer at FARE. “It’s clear that food allergies are a serious public health issue that we all must take seriously. The Teal Pumpkin Project provides an opportunity for all of us to show empathy for kids who often feel excluded. We would love to see at least one teal pumpkin on every block – and it’s a terrific way for communities to come together to celebration inclusion.”

For Westlake, OH mom Vikki Meldrum, the Teal Pumpkin Project has already provided an unforgettable experience for her and her 4-year-old daughter Lyla. Meldrum spread the word about the initiative among her neighbors, who have now shown their support for the last two years, with at least 30 teal pumpkins in her own neighborhood.

“The Teal Pumpkin Project made the holiday inclusive for kids like Lyla. Teal pumpkins empower her to not only feel safe on Halloween (even with so many allergens present), but also that she is truly a part of the holiday,” Meldrum said. “So often we have to bend a typical situation around Lyla’s allergies. This movement has allowed Lyla to freely participate, and that is amazing.”

Being part of the Teal Pumpkin Project is simple. Supporters can:

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
  • Paint a pumpkin teal or buy a teal pumpkin at your local craft store or pharmacy, or print a free sign from FARE’s website.
  • Place your teal pumpkin or sign in front of your home to indicate non-food treats are available.

Launched nationally in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project has attracted supporters from 50 states and more than a dozen countries. The campaign was inspired by a local awareness activity conceived by Becky Basalone and run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee.

FARE thanks the following Teal Pumpkin Project official 2017 partners: Ahold USA (including its brands Stop & Shop, Giant Food and Giant/Martin’s), CVS Pharmacy, Michaels and Savers.

FARE has a number of resources to help individuals and families get involved, including:

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit www.tealpumpkinproject.org For more information about food allergies, visit www.foodallergy.org.

5 Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Your Family or Community

The YMCA of Metro Chicago shared that September is Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and while the dangers of childhood obesity are well-chronicled, many families need support in changing their habits. That’s why the YMCA of Metro Chicago — a leading community-based organization dedicated to improving health — wants families to understand the dangers of childhood obesity and ways to reverse course through improved eating habits and increased physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity has remained stable at about 17 percent and affects about 12.7 million children and adolescents. Today, obesity affects one in six children and one in three are overweight, which poses greater risks for many health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers. For years, parents have heard the dangers of childhood obesity but making the necessary lifestyle changes — as a family — remains the biggest barrier to real progress. Together we can learn healthy behaviors, and community-based organizations like the Y can provide a helping hand.

The Y helps families improve their health and potentially reduce the impact of childhood obesity through sports, swimming, fitness, and more. While outside support is key, developing healthy habits begin at home. The following tips are some great ways to incorporate healthier eating habits and more physical activity and into your daily family routine:

Eat & Drink Healthy: Make water the drink of choice and encourage everyone to fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables by offering two or three colorful options at every meal. As a family chooses a new fruit and veggie every week to taste together. Place a full pitcher of water on the table during meals and allow children to pour their own water. Keep full water bottles available in the car and backpacks. Read more

Five simple steps to healthy kids

Lurie Children’s Hospital shared with the Daily Herald Newspaper that it’s always a good time to motivate kids to get off the couch and encourage them to be active.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Go!® Program is here to do just that. It’s the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children’s public education message to promote healthy lifestyles for families. The basics of the program are:

• 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

• 4 servings of water a day

• 3 servings of low-fat dairy a day

• 2 or fewer hours of recreational screen time a day

• 1 or more hours of physical activity a day

Dr. Rebecca Unger, a pediatrician at Northwestern Children’s Practice, who has a special interest in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, was involved in the initial development of the 5-4-3-2-1 Go! message. It has been around since 2004 and promotes healthy lifestyle goals that are simple and easy to share with families.

“When developing the message, we intentionally focused on positive actions parents or caregivers can take when influencing their child to lead a healthy lifestyle,” said Unger, who also is on staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“We encourage families to drink water or low-fat milk, and limit sugary beverages as much as possible,” Unger said. “Parents may think of fruit juice or sports drinks as healthy, but they are packed with sugar and calories. Sports drinks, for example, can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities to replace electrolytes, but in most cases they are unnecessary.” Read more

4 Actions Families Can Take to Keep Youth Physically Active

Portrait of a clever young boy typing message on mobile phone isolated over orange background

The YMCA of Metro Chicago shared that proper physical activity is critical for every child’s health and well-being, and according to Dr. Dan Cooper, it’s even associated with improved academic performance. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that children and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of daily exercise that includes aerobic activities, muscle-strengthening activities, and bone-strengthening activities.

While most parents know the importance of keeping youth active, it may sometimes be challenging to make exercise appealing to children. Try to adopt new habits that will improve the health of both you and your children, while also strengthening your family’s bond.

Here are a few ways to that you can empower your family to be more physically active together:

1. Lead an active life yourself. Children are heavily influenced by what they observe from their parents or guardian. They will learn the value of physical fitness if they see exercise incorporated in your own daily life. Read more