Nutrition and Obesity

All Articles in the Category ‘Nutrition and Obesity’

Healthy eating tips for babies and toddlers

Toddler eating veggies

For parents of little ones, the task of reinforcing healthy habits around the dinner table can cause a bit of apprehension: What foods are best? How do I get my kids to eat their veggies? How much is too much? Parents can find it hard to know if they’re encouraging healthy eating habits in their young children.

Mollie Grow, MD, MPH, pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital – and the mother of two young girls – says that the old adage “you are what you eat” is pretty spot-on, even more so for young children whose growing minds and bodies depend on a number of different nutrients.

Nutritional recommendations have changed over time, but Grow says we now know the most we’ve ever known about nutrition.

“We’ve learned that fresh foods – especially fruits and vegetables – and variety in our diets provides the best nutrients our bodies need for optimal growth and performance,” she says. “All the different parts of our foods work together. For example, iron is needed for learning, calcium and vitamin D are needed for bone growth, vitamin B12 helps the blood grow and vitamin C helps the immune system and repairs soft tissues.”

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Study shows diet can be major source of chemical exposures

Spices

Your water bottle may have a BPA-free label, and you try to avoid cooking food in plastic containers. But you may still be exposed to chemicals in the food you eat, even if you’re eating an organic diet and your meals are cooked and stored in non-plastic containers, according to a study published February 27 in the Nature Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

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5 tips for raising heart-healthy kids and teens

For National Heart Month, five Seattle Children’s providers share their tips for helping kids and teens build strong, healthy hearts.

Make a heart-healthy resolution for your family this February:

1. Protect young athletes with pre-sport heart screenings

“We’ve all heard stories in the news – the sudden death of a young, competitive athlete due to undetected cardiovascular disease,” says Jack Salerno, MD, director of electrophysiology and pacing services at Seattle Children’s. “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. One minute your seemingly healthy child is on top of the world competing in a sport they love. The next minute their heart suddenly stops.”

Listening to patientSalerno says parents can help protect their young athletes from sudden cardiac arrest by learning about potential “red flags” before their kids begin competing in sports. “It’s important for student athletes and their parents to work hand-in-hand with physicians to detect any potential risks before the sports season begins.”

The American Heart Association recommends that kids and teens be screened against a 12-point checklist that includes a review of the athlete’s personal and family medical history, and a physical exam by a doctor. The medical history review looks for risk factors like chest pain, elevated blood pressure and unexplained fainting, as well as any family history of heart disease. “A positive response to one or more items on the checklist could trigger further testing, including an electrocardiogram,” Salerno says.

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A Serious Warning: Energy Drinks for Children and Teens

We all want our kids to lead vibrant, active lives, because childhood is such a dynamic time of discovery and participation.

But there are healthy – and unhealthy – ways to ensure that this happens.

One of my concerns right now is that caffeine is playing an unhealthy role in the diets of too many children and adolescents. Teens, for example, shouldn’t consume more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. (The recommended caffeine ceiling for adults is about 400 mg per day.)

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with certain energy drinks that exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) mandated limit of 71 mg of caffeine for a 12-ounce soda.

Energy drinks are sold as nutritional supplements, so they’re not regulated as foods.  As a result, their labels often don’t reveal the exact amount of caffeine in each drink. And, in addition to caffeine, energy drinks may contain other stimulants, such as taurine and guarana, a caffeine containing plant.

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Restaurant Environments Improve, Sort of, Under Nutrition-Label Regulation

Buy one, get one for 1 cent.  Be a hot tamale, eat a hot tamale.  Try our new salted carmel cake pop.

We see slogans like these on billboards and at restaurants on a daily basis.  Would a nutrition-labeling regulation that requires restaurants to post calorie counts help spur a reduction in the use of these slogans, which are known as “barriers to healthful eating?”  That’s what a research team, led by Brian Saelens, PhD, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute, set out to find. The study, “Nutrition-labeling regulation impacts on restaurant environments,” is published this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Young man looks at the menu in a fast food restaurant

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Six Nutrition Myths Debunked

It’s back-to-school time and back to heavily scheduled days of after-school activities, homework, sports, music lessons, and more. With all there is to juggle in a day, it’s tempting to believe some of the myths about nutrition that may promise to make it easier and faster to feed our children well.

We checked in with Seattle Children’s nutrition team to find out the truth behind some of the more common nutrition myths.

Here’s what we learned: Read full post »

Mission: Nutrition Brings Healthier Food and Drink Options to Seattle Children’s

“Food is your medicine – hence let your medicine be your food”  – Hippocrates, circa 400 BC

Hospitals are places where healing and wellness are promoted, yet the food and drink that are served at them may not always be the healthiest options for patients, their families and staff.  Seattle Children’s is tackling this challenge head on.

Today, Children’s announced the launch of Mission: Nutrition – a new initiative aimed at improving the nutritional quality of the food and drinks served at all Children’s properties. Improving our nutritional offerings will happen in several phases over time. Here’s a look at phase one improvements, some of which are already underway:

  • Deep-fat fried foods are no longer offered in the hospital’s cafeteria. Instead, french fries, onion rings, fish fillets, egg rolls, empanadas and other traditionally deep-fat-fried foods are now baked.
  • Beginning this month, all sugar-sweetened beverages in cafeterias, vending machines and gift shops will be removed – one of the more sweeping changes of the initiative.
  • Wild salmon with tomato pesto, cod fillet and country baked steak have been added to the cafeteria’s rotating menu as healthy alternatives.

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Do Sports Derail Children’s Healthy Eating Habits?

A new study says “yes.”

University of Minnesota researchers interviewed the parents of 60 youth basketball players and found that the young athletes commonly had sweets, such as candy, ice cream and doughnuts; pizza; hot dogs; salty snacks, including chips, nachos and cheese puff and soda and sports drinks.

The parents also reported frequent visits to fast-food restaurants when their children were playing sports.

And, even though the parents agreed that these foods and beverages are unhealthy, they said rushing to practices and games made them rely more on these types of products due to their convenience. Read full post »