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Promoting Healthy Eating Behaviors

Partnership Developed to Promote Healthy Eating Patterns. The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association announced that they are collaborating to improve the eating habits of children in schools. The partners signed a "Call to Action" that enlists schools and communities in an effort to promote healthy eating patterns for our nation's children.
Shirley Watkins, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at USDA, said It is in our schools that the opportunity exists to teach nutrition. But we can't teach nutrition if the rest of the school environment does not reflect the lessons being taught in the classroom. We need consistent messages. Discussions focused on the need to help children make the right choice in their diets and convincing people of the value of this initiative to improving the future of our children.
The partnership comes in the wake of some of the disturbing statistics emerging regarding children's eating patterns:
Only two percent of youth meet all the recommendations of the food guide Pyramid; 16 percent do not meet any recommendations.
Less than 15 percent of school children eat the recommended servings of fruit.
Less than 20 percent eat the recommended servings of vegetables.
About 25 percent eat the recommended serving of grains.
Only 30 percent consume the recommended milk group servings on any given day.
Only 16 percent of school children meet the guideline for saturated fat on any given day.
Teenagers today drink twice as much carbonated soda as milk and only 19 percent of girls ages 9-19 meet the recommended intakes for calcium.
Prescription for Change: Ten Keys to Promote Healthy Eating in Schools
1. Students, parents, educators and community leaders will be involved in assessing the school's eating environment, developing a shared vision and an action plan to achieve it.
2. Adequate funds will be provided by local, state and federal sources to ensure that the total school environment supports the development of healthy eating patterns.
3. Behavior-focused nutrition education will be integrated into the curriculum from pre-K through grade 12. Staff who provide nutrition education will have appropriate training.
4. School meals will meet the USDA nutrition standards as well as provide sufficient choices, including new foods and foods prepared in new ways, to meet the taste preferences of diverse student populations.
5. All students will have designated lunch periods of sufficient length to enjoy eating healthy foods with friends. These lunch periods will be scheduled as near the middle of the school day as possible.
6. Schools will provide enough serving areas to ensure student access to school meals with a minimum of wait time.
7. Space that is adequate to accommodate all students and pleasant surroundings that reflect the value of social aspects of eating will be provided.
8. Students, teachers and community volunteers who practice healthy eating will be encouraged to serve as role models in the school dining areas.
9. If foods are sold in addition to National School Lunch Program meals, they will be from the five major food groups of the Food Guide Pyramid. This practice will foster healthy eating patterns.
10. Decisions regarding the sale of foods in addition to the National School Lunch Program meals will be based on nutrition goals not on profit making.