Newsbites: May 13

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I have been neglectful of Newsbites in the last couple weeks because there has been so much other stuff going on. I am attempting to resurrect it this week. Let's see how I do.

Of course you know school food is one of my things. It looks like the issue is getting some celebrity backing behind it which may help us out. Chevy Chase, of Saturday Night Live and "Vacation" fame, spent some time speaking to Congress this week about the importance of establishing national nutrition standards for competitive foods sold in our public schools. If you remember, competitive foods are those foods sold outside of the school meal program, i.e. the cafeteria. It just floors me that this topic has gotten so big. It gives me a lot of hope.

(Incidentally, Chase was on the hill attending the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities. The committee held a hearing to discuss the latest on the school wellness policies and childhood obesity. Keep your ears out for new legislation).

Of course celebs have been on and continuing to get on the band wagon to fight childhood obesity. The Food Network's Rachael Ray just teamed up with President Clinton to fight the good fight. Ray's new non-profit Yum-O Organization will work with Clinton's Alliance for Healthier Generation to create new segments for her TV show that will help families put healthy meals together. Now if we could just get them to get behind school food legislation..... imagine the possibilities.

And here's some news that really drives home how important it is that we continue to advocate for changes and provide our kids with more more more nutrition education:

Most of our teens are not practicing the following four crucial obesity prevention behaviors (according to a presentation this past week at the Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Toronto):

  1. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (which is actually less than the current recommendation)

  2. Spending less than two hours in front of the TV and computer

  3. Exercising at least an hour a day

  4. Staying away from sugar sweetened beverages


Researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted from 1999-2002. Here's what they found:


  • Only 9% of teens ate five servings of fruits and veggies

  • 27% spent less than two hours in front of the TV and computer screen

  • 32% exercised for an hour or more

  • 14% drank no sugary beverages


Almost none of these teens engaged in all four behaviors, and an alarming 41% did not engage in any of them.

This is troubling but the data is from 2002 and I hope our efforts and messages have gotten across to some of our teens in the last five years. Yet it does bring to our attention again how crucial it is to get this information across to our kids in a meaningful way. Living a healthy lifestyle is just so uncool. How do we make it cool? Your ideas are most welcome.

That's all for now.. have a fruit and veggie filled week!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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