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March devoted to issue we should mind everyday: good nutrition

fruits-and-vegetablesAs the lion and lamb weather of March rolls in, the American Dietetic Association kick-offs National Nutrition Month.

This annual campaign is designed to educate citizens about the importance of exercise and making healthy day-to-day food choices.

Changing habits as an adult is possible, but extremely difficult—especially if it means reinventing your entire lifestyle. That’s why it’s especially important to education children and teens about nutrition—helping them to understand that a healthy lifestyle should be a top priority.

Statistics about national childhood obesity are nothing short of disturbing. One third of America’s children are overweight or obese, according to Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.    

On average, children spend nearly half of their waking hours in school, so it is imperative the nutritional school lunches are provided. A recent study in Michigan found that children who ate the school lunch regularly were at a higher risk for obesity, The New York Times reports.  

In other words, the nutritional value of school meals across the country needs to improve, and improve quickly. Schools have a substantial influence upon the eating habits of children, as many eat school lunches every day, and others also eat school breakfasts.

In August, the ASBJ reported on other efforts against childhood obesity, such as schools planting vegetable gardens. Past ASBJ articles about school food and nutrition can be found here.

A great resource on the American Dietetic Association’s website is the “Rate your Plate” quiz, which asks questions about nutritional consistency in quiz-taker’s diets. At the end, a short blurb about dietary habits and a link to a U.S. Department of Agriculture resource to create a personalized diet are provided.       

The American Dietetic Association also highlights the quick-fix and often bizarre trendy diets throughout the ages in their Fad Diet Timeline.  These gems are sure to make you lose weight in the most temporary and unhealthy ways possible. 

The absurdities range from the 1925 “Cigarette Diet,” when Lucky Strikes encouraged smoking for thinness, to the 1976 “Sleeping Beauty Diet,” taking a little power nap for multiple days under heavy sedation, to my personal favorite, the “Caveman Diet,” a testament to our primal ancestors. The timeline missed the 2011 Typical College Student’s Diet. This consists of Ramen Noodles, pizza, macaroni and cheese, coffee and (hopefully for of-age students) cheap beer. Side effects may include inability to move and reach the remote control, a lack of motivation to finish that term paper, and falling asleep in class.   

Such diets seem ridiculously outlandish, but they also serve as a testament to the lack of education about healthy eating habits that has been spread throughout history in this country. How many college students are aware of the consequences of their eating habits? How many care?    

During my freshman year of college, I took a nutrition class in which we had to track our diets using computer software. After reviewing the results, I was surprised that my heart was still beating. My daily sodium intake was nearly triple the recommended value. 

I made necessary changes, bit by bit—but it certainly did not happen overnight, and my diet remains far from perfect. If we start educating children from a very young age about the importance of nutrition, it will be ingrained into their minds and make more of a lasting impact. As a result, hopefully fewer adults in the future find themselves in a predicament of having to change their life-long unhealthy eating.

Melissa Major, Spring Intern

Naomi Dillon|March 2nd, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Wellness|Tags: , , , |

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