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Combating Childhood Obesity with Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains

Kids making pizza

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. It happens to also be “Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month” and “Whole Grains Month” -this is perfect as all of these go hand in hand. The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. To help your children and family develop healthy eating habits, it is important to provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products. Here are some snack ideas to help add vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products into your child’s diet:

  • Peel a banana and dip it in low-fat yogurt. Roll in crushed cereal and freeze. You can also try this recipe with crushed nuts, raisins and granola for some variety.
  • Alternate layers of low-fat pudding or yogurt and fruit in a tall glass or parfait cup to make a sky-high fabulous fruit parfait. Top with crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers for some added crunch and sweetness. Find some fun looking dishes and spoons to enjoy this delicious treat.
  • Pizza can be fun and healthy with the right ingredients and a great way to encourage your child to try some new vegetables. Use whole-wheat tortilla wraps or pita pockets as the crust. Add sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese and as many veggies as you can pile on. To make it even more fun, let them make faces on their pizzas!
  • Microwave a small baked potato and top with salsa and low-fat cheese for a quick and easy afternoon pick-me-up. Add some diced chicken, beans or lean ground beef and serve with a bowl of soup or side salad and this tasty snack can become a filling meal for the whole family to enjoy.

Laura Gibofsky, nutritionistLaura Gibofsky, MS, RD, CSP, CDN, is a nutritionist at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Topics: Nutrition
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.