Alicia Henn, a cook in Seattle Children’s Forest Kitchen, helps serve healthy, sustainable food to patients, families and workforce members.
What do you think of when someone says, “hospital food” — green Jell-O anyone?
You probably don’t think of create-your-own omelets, barbecued chicken salads, street tacos or hand-tossed pizzas.
Hospital food has traditionally gotten a bad rap — and for many years it was deserved.
When Gina Sadowski, director of Nutrition, Culinary and Retail, started at Seattle Children’s more than 15 years ago, the food options in the hospital industry left something to be desired.
“Hospitals had very basic menus, heavily reliant on processed and convenience foods,” she said. “It was literally open a box, heat, serve.”
Since then, it has been Sadowski’s goal to change that at Seattle Children’s. Read full post »
Can a child’s neighborhood affect his or her weight status, diet, and activity level? According to new research published today in Obesity, the answer is yes.
Dr. Brian Saelens, a principal investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute who led the study, said children living in neighborhoods with favorable nutrition and activity environments, meaning the neighborhoods had at least one high quality park and were more walkable and there was access to healthy foods or less access to less healthy foods, continue to have lower rates of obesity when compared to children living in less favorable neighborhoods. Less favorable neighborhoods were defined as having no or lower quality parks and either no supermarket or a higher concentration of fast food restaurants. Read full post »
Active kids enjoy improved mental wellness and reduce their risk of heart disease. While the days are short and the weather is often cold or dreary, kids still need to be getting physical activity each and every day.
February is American Heart Month and On The Pulse asked Emily Carter, athletic trainer, and Dr. Monique Burton, director of the Sports Medicine Program, to share ideas for indoor activities that put a smile on a child’s face and get their heart pumping. Read full post »
The school year has begun, the days are getting shorter and the holidays are right around the corner. As a result, families are on the go in less daylight and variable weather, by foot, bicycles and vehicles. It’s a good time to think about how to use active transportation while staying safe in an increasingly busy world.
“Walking and biking are fantastic ways to get exercise and I want to see more families choosing active transportation,” said Dr. Beth Ebel, attending physician at Seattle Children’s and lead of the Safe and Active Transport Section at the University of Washington/Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center. “Parents can help keep their children injury-free when they’re on the go by advocating for safe places for active transportation and consistently practicing and enforcing safe behaviors while traveling by any mode, whether near or far.” Read full post »
Children who participated in the bike train study averaged an additional 21 minutes of exercise per day and increased cycling to school by 45%.
The path to healthier living for children could be the same one they take to school.
Children who participated in adult-supervised group bicycle rides to and from school increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity by 21 minutes per day and daily cycling commutes by 45%, according to a pilot study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The additional exercise study participants gained from riding in the groups, known as bike trains, accounted for 35% of the 60 minutes of physical activity recommended daily for children.
“Regular physical activity can help build muscle and bone strength, raise energy levels, and help reduce the risk of conditions like obesity and heart disease,” said Seattle Children’s researcher Dr. Jason Mendoza, who served as the principal investigator for the study. Read full post »
Heather Armstrong and her daughter, Lauren, saw positive results from their time in the SHIFT study last year. Armstrong is now a SHIFT peer interventionist helping other families.
Heather Armstrong made a commitment to a healthier lifestyle when she volunteered herself and her 8-year-old daughter, Lauren, for a weight management treatment study at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
For five months, Armstrong and Lauren attended weekly sessions in the Success in Health: Impacting Families Together (SHIFT) study that provided guidance and education to help them reach and sustain better eating and activity behaviors and ultimately better weight management. The sessions focused on healthy eating, supporting children throughout behavior changes, improving the home environment for physical activity and healthy eating, building confidence and incorporating more physical activity into family life. Read full post »
Nearly 90% of kids in the U.S. consume too much sodium, putting them at risk for high blood pressure in childhood, and heart disease and stroke later in life. While everyone needs a small amount of sodium to help control the fluid balance in the body and allow nerves and muscles work, too much sodium is harmful and is dubbed the ‘silent killer.’
In honor of American Heart Month, On the Pulse asked Kirsten Thompson, a dietitian in Seattle Children’s Pediatric Hypertension program, to provide insight into how kids are consuming so much sodium.
“When I ask patients and families about sodium intake, they often say that they don’t eat too much sodium because they don’t add salt from the salt shaker to the foods they eat,” said Thompson. “They’re often surprised to learn that sodium is actually hidden in a lot of foods that we wouldn’t normally think of as salty.” Read full post »
These images show brain scans of a normal weight child (top row) and an obese child (bottom row) before and after a meal. The blue in the top right image from a normal weight child indicates reduced activity in areas of the brain associated with hunger. The bottom right image shows similar brain activity in an obese child before and after eating, an indication there may be an issue in brain signaling to indicate hunger and fullness.
Are brain signals in obese children different than brain signals in normal weight children? Researchers at Seattle Children’s hope to answer that question with a new trial that uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study brain signaling in children ages 9-11.
Dr. Christian Roth, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is overseeing a trial called the Brain Activation and Satiety in Children Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (BASIC fMRI) study to look at how the brain responds to food in children who are obese and those who are normal weight.
“Our goal is to understand why some children who are obese still feel hungry after eating a meal,” Roth said. “We want to understand this tendency to overeat in more detail and get insight into the brain signals that cause it.” Read full post »
Traditional advice for helping families ensure their children and teens maintain a healthy weight begins with a focus on balancing calories consumed from food and beverages with calories used through physical activity and growth. Dr. Lenna Liu, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and Child Wellness Clinic, uses a slightly different approach to support families with the complex issue of weight management. She starts by encouraging families to adopt a mindful approach to eating. Read full post »
Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn (left) and Dr. Anisa Ibrahim (right) study refugee children and nutrition.
Dr. Anisa Ibrahim was 6 in 1993 when her family came to Seattle from Somalia, driven from their country by civil war. In the beginning, everything about their new country was exciting and confusing — especially the supermarket.
“We were used to going to the market every day to buy fresh food,” recalls Ibrahim, now a third-year resident in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s. “It was hard to transition to buying bags and boxes of food in bulk.”
Foods the family relied on back home — like goat and guava — were not readily available. And snacks Ibrahim’s classmates pulled out of their lunchboxes — like cheese and Chex mix — were completely unfamiliar.
Unlike some refugees, Ibrahim and her siblings were healthy and well-nourished when they arrived. And thanks to her mom’s skill at cooking and adaptation, says Ibrahim, they stayed that way as they learned their way around the new food landscape.
As a doctor, Ibrahim wants to ensure other families can do the same. That’s why she carved out time during residency to work with Dr. Beth Dawson-Hahn, a pediatrician and research fellow in the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, who is studying refugee children and nutrition. Read full post »