Numbers to Live By!
A Healthy Eating, Active Living Message
Eat fruits and vegetables at least five or more times on most daysA diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and minerals, important for supporting growth and development, and for optimal immune function in children. In adults, a high daily intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and possibly some types of cancer. Emerging science suggests fruit and vegetable consumption may help prevent weight gain, and when total calories are controlled may be an important aid to achieving and sustaining weight loss.
Limit “screen time” (unrelated to school) to two hours or less each dayWatching television occupies many children for several hours each day and is associated with physical inactivity, increased energy intake, exposure to marketing (while sitting in front of the TV, many people snack more than they should) and increased prevalence of overweight and obesity. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under age 2 not watch any television. Too much TV has been linked to lower reading scores and attention problems.
Get one hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.Regular physical activity is essential for fitness and prevention of overweight and chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and osteoporosis. While most school-age children are quite active, physical activity sharply declines during adolescence. Children who are raised in families with active lifestyles are more likely to stay active as adults than children raised in families with sedentary lifestyles.
Drink less sugar. Try water and low-fat or fat-free milk instead of sugar-sweetened drinks and whole milkSugar-sweetened beverage consumption has increased dramatically over the past 20 years; high intake among children is associated with overweight and obesity, displacement of milk consumption and dental cavities.
Whole milk is the single largest source of saturated fat in children’s diets. Switching to low or non-fat milk products significantly reduces dietary saturated and total fat, as well as total calories.
National Association for Sport and Physical Education, Physical Activity for Children: A Statement of Guidelines for Children Ages 5-12. (2004).
Position of the American Dietetic Association: Dietary Guidance for Healthy Children Ages 2-11 Years, J. Am. Diet. Assoc., 2004; 104: 660-677.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Issue Brief: The Role of Media in Childhood Obesity, February 2004.
USDHHS and USDA, 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, retrieved during 12/04 from health.gov/dietaryguidelines
Walter C. Willett, M.D. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Guide to Healthy Eating, 2001, Free Press, NY. Adapted From the Harvard Prevention Research Center 2/1/08