Women In Government featured a session on childhood obesity at its 19th Annual State Directors’ Conference and Tenth Biennial First Term Legislators’ Conference. Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk talked about her work in establishing a childhood obesity caucus in her state of Maryland. To access her legislation, HB 1176, click here, and to learn more about the work that Women In Government is doing on this topic, view the Delegate's presentation here. The session also included Elizabeth Hinman, the Associate of Advocacy and Outreach for the Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC) who spoke about her work on the topic. LHC works with policymakers to work in communities to create walk-able areas, Town Hall events, and policy changes that will help improve the nutrition of children in their states. To learn more about LHC and their work, view Ms. Hinman's presentation here, and access the videos she suggested here and more "instant recess" videos here. To learn more about some of the legislation discussed in the Q&A segment, view Oregon nutrition education legislation LC 2446 and 2447 here.
Women In Government kicked off its partnership with the Leadership for Healthy Communities (LHC), and the campaign to focus on childhood obesity and the importance of healthy communities at the Third Annual Healthcare Summit in Washington, DC. Legislators were able to learn about LHC goals and success stories, and the work that legislators can do to improve their communities from Dr. Maya Rockeymoore, the Executive Director of LHC. Dr. Rockeymoore is a nationally renowned expert in health and wellness. She directs Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), as a part of her responsibilities as President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, a consulting firm based in Washington, DC. Dr. Rockeymoore has presented and written extensively about a variety of health topics including, health disparities, childhood obesity, healthcare reform, community-based approaches to health, Medicaid, and Medicare policy. To learn more, view her presentation here. Children’s health is related to various topics including physical, mental and social wellbeing. The most critical areas of children’s health are proper nutrition, necessary immunizations, use of vitamins and various diseases or safety concerns. Due to the number of health concerns, it is recommended that children have regular visits to their pediatrician to check up on significant changes in weight, sleeping problems, sore throats, breathing problems, temperatures over 120 or any rashes or skin infections.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the best health plan for children is a stable diet of three meals and two snacks per day. A vegetable or fruit should be included in each meal, but they make great snacks as well. A primary concern regarding nutrition and children is obesity. The CDC recommends rewarding children with attention or playful activities rather than foods as a way to avoid feeding children too often.
Another means of providing nutritious and balanced meals to children is following the food pyramid. The food pyramid in the past simply broke down how many servings of each food type to eat in one day. For instance, the bottom row of the pyramid suggested 6-10 servings of bread/grains a day. For a child 10 servings of bread can be far too large a quantity. The new food pyramid released by the United States Department of Agriculture provides a tool to calculate how much of each food group a person should intake daily according to their age, height and daily physical activity. This new pyramid is available at MyPyramid.gov.
A balanced and healthy diet is often an adequate way to ensure a child receives all of his or her necessary vitamins and nutrients. A common concern among parents, however, is whether or not their child should take multivitamins. There are a number of multivitamins available for parents who are looking for vitamin or mineral supplements to their child’s diet. Among the important vitamins and minerals that children need are Vitamin D, iron, calcium and fluoride.
Vitamin D can be obtained from Vitamin D fortified milk. The recommended amount is 500 ml, but exposure to sunlight can also provide needed Vitamin D.
Iron prevents anemia and is especially important among young girls who are starting their menstrual cycles. Good sources of iron are meats, fish, legumes, fortified breads and cereals.
Calcium is necessary for healthy bones and teeth and is most commonly found in dairy products.
Fluoride provides for healthy teeth and can be found in the tap water of cities or bottled water of companies that add fluoride to their products.
Common multivitamins are available at grocery stores and pharmacies/drug stores.
Immunizations are also especially important for the health of children. Most immunizations are recommended in the early months of a child’s life, but many times follow up doses are required 5 or more years after the initial injection. Common immunizations include:
Hepatitis B which is administered at birth, at 1-4 months and again at 6-8 months;
Diphtheria and Tetanus are given at months two, four, six, 15-18 and again between 4 and 6 years old;
And other immunizations include: Haemophilus Influenzae Type B, Inactivated Poliovirus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Chickenpox (Varicella), Pneumococcal disease (PCV and PPV) and Hepatitis A (in certain areas).
Active Bill 2007 CA A.B. 967 Assembly Committee on Agriculture Farm Fresh Schools Program Summary: Creates the Farm Fresh Schools Program. The purpose of the program is to reduce obesity, improve nutrition and public health, and strengthen local and regional economies by increasing access to, and promoting the consumption of, locally and regionally grown fruits and vegetables in schools and increasing access to physical activities and programs that promote pupil wellness. Bill Analysis
United States Department of Agriculture: My Pyramid Plan
Various Articles and Videos on Topics Related to Children's Health
Healthy Food Choices for Kids 2-5
Nutrition for Kids: Guidelines for a Healthy Diet for Various Ages, Boys and Girls