What Should Be In Your Child’s Lunch

Written by families  |  15. September 2006

As the new school year gets underway, parents should not only be thinking about clothes and supplies but also about what types of lunch they should pack for their children. Back to school time is a great time to teach kids how to make heart healthy choices. The American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation formed the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to ensure that today's generation of kids grows up healthy. The American Heart Association recommends that kids should eat a wide variety of foods while consuming enough calories to support their growth and development. Kids and their families should eat: foods low in saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat; choose a wide range of foods to get enough carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients; and eat only enough calories to maintain a healthy weight for their height and build. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of illness and premature death in men and women around the world. Cardiovascular diseases kill more than 8,600 people on Long Island each year. Mounting evidence reveals the importance of primary prevention of heart disease beginning in childhood. A disturbing trend observed around the country is the dramatic increase of overweight and obese children. The trend is particularly alarming because obesity clusters with other major cardiovascular disease risk factors. These factors include hypertension, cholesterol disorders and type-2 diabetes, which are increasing in children and adolescents. Overweight children are more likely to be overweight adults. Teaching children healthy eating habits now may reduce their risks of becoming overweight adults. Here are some tips to think about when preparing your children's food:
  • Choose foods naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, like fruits and vegetables. Most are naturally low in fat, calories and sodium and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat products. Take the low-fat challenge, and compare different products. Cutting back on fat will help keep the calorie intake low.
  • Use lean meats. Choose fish, chicken, turkey and lean cuts of beef and pork.
  • Switch to fat-free milk. Gradually reduce the fat content of the milk you drink. Start with 2%...then try 1%...and finally fat-free milk.
  • Switch to low-fat breads.
Parents can find great tools to help their kids make healthier choices. The Alliance Web site, HealthierGeneration.org, has tips on how to get a picky eater to eat healthier, how to make kids more active and how families can make healthy choices when eating out. To learn more about reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, visit the American Heart Association Web site at www.americanheart.org, or call 1-800-AHA-USA1 (1-800-242-8721). ---------- Information provided by the American Heart Association. Since 1924, the American Heart Association has helped protect people of all ages and ethnicities from the ravages of heart disease and stroke. These diseases, the nation's No. 1 and No. 3 killers, claim more than 910,000 American lives a year. The association invested nearly $474 million in fiscal year 2004-05 for research, professional and public education, advocacy, and community service programs so people across America can live stronger, longer lives.

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