Archive for April, 2010

Fuel Up to Play 60 honors students, school for improving nutrition

I’m excited to announce Fuel Up to Play 60 is honoring student and school winners of its online challenge for the 2009-2010 school year.  More than 60,000 schools participated in the program this year and 6th to 8th graders from Enslow Middle School in Huntington, WV earned the most points during the challenge, making Enslow this year’s winning school!

These students embraced the concept that small changes to your health can make a big difference for everyone.  Enslow students held taste tests to determine new healthy menu options to add to the cafeteria selection and started a walking club to help students exercise daily.  They tracked all of the healthy changes they made during the school year and ultimately their personal efforts made them our national school winner, earning them a new HOPS Sports System and cafeteria makeover (valued at $40,000), which will help Enslow’s students make their improvements permanent.

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Ring the dinner bell for better nutrition

As my friend, Erin Coffield stated in her previous blog post, Fuel Up to Play 60 shares many of the ambitious goals outlined in the First Lady’s childhood obesity platform, Let’s Move. One goal that both programs share is helping families make healthy choices for meals. It sounds so simple, but how do you begin?

As health professionals, it is good to remember that teaching families the importance of eating together offers the foundation for building healthy diets. In a research editorial in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the author summarizes studies that found the frequency of family dinner was associated with higher intake of nutrients, such as dietary fiber, calcium, iron, folate, and vitamins B-6, B-12, C and E. Another study discussed found that the frequency of family dinner was positively associated with intake of fruits, vegetables, grains and calcium-rich foods and inversely associated with soft drink consumption. Here’s a link to an abstract of one of the studies referenced in the editorial. The challenge is putting nutrient-rich foods like low-fat and fat-free milk and milk products, whole grains, fruits and vegetables on the table while simultaneously coordinating work and school schedules.

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Women are often unaware of osteoporosis fracture risk

Science Daily reports on a new study published in Osteoporosis International that found among women at an elevated risk level for osteoporosis-associated fractures, they fail to perceive the implications of having important risk factors. Of women diagnosed with osteoporosis, only 43 percent perceived themselves to be at increased risk for fracture. This study demonstrates that more education is needed for women at risk for osteoporosis-related fractures.

Communicating a positive nutrition message

I recently attended the 2010 Texas Dietetic Association annual Food and Nutrition Conference for registered dietitians. While much of the history of dietary guidance has focused on nutrients to avoid (fat, sugar and salt), the theme of the conference, Communicating a Positive Nutrition Message, lends credibility to the need for a more positive approach. One such approach is the Nutrient Rich Foods approach through which nutrition experts nationwide are empowering people to make their calories count more by choosing nutrient-rich foods. The Nutrient Rich Foods approach helps people follow the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid to help people “get more nutrition from their calories” and build healthier overall diets. More enduring than a trendy diet, the Nutrient Rich Foods approach is a fundamentally different way to define nutritious foods – an evolution from what foods or nutrients to avoid to what to include – a positive message!

As a part of the conference, I had the pleasure to attend the session, “Entertaining with Nutrient-Rich Foods,” given by Chef Sarah Penrod and registered dietitian Jan Tilley. This session showed that home-based entertaining can be both nutritious and delicious by teaching attendees how to incorporate nutrient-rich foods into the overall menu while keeping it festive and fun. The four rules they provided to achieve this balance included:
• Keep it easy to serve
• Make it beautiful, but realistic
• Make it special – classic, trendy or vintage
• Balance nutrient-rich foods with special occasion foods

The selections demonstrated included a market board, a trendy cheese plate with complimentary pairings, featuring a wonderful blueberry Stilton cheese, Brie with raspberry preserve sauce, fresh raspberries, frosted grapes, sautéed peaches and roasted asparagus. The market board was accompanied with torn pieces of fresh whole grain bread.  Additionally, a quinoa risotto made with Pepper Jack cheese and corn and naan bread pizzas topped with blue cheese also were demonstrated.

These recipes demonstrate that nutrient-rich cooking can be both healthy while appealing and pleasing to the palate. Sarah is additionally, a personal chef devoted to helping others eat healthfully while enjoying their food. She partners frequently with Jan Tilley, MS, RD/LD, who advocates enjoying nutrient-rich foods as a part of overall well-being. Both of these ladies have become successful by communicating a positive nutrition message through nutrient-rich foods, a lesson we should all consider incorporating into our practices moving forward.

A protein-rich breakfast found to keep teens satisfied until lunch

There’s nothing like a growling stomach to distract kids from their school work. Grabbing a piece of toast or banana as they run out the door in the morning (or skipping breakfast altogether) likely won’t do the job of keeping them satisfied until lunch. Satiety expert Heather Leidy and colleagues studied 13 normal to overweight adolescents who routinely skip breakfast to compare the impact of consuming a typical protein breakfast containing 18 grams of protein, a protein-rich breakfast including whey protein containing 49 grams, or no breakfast at all on appetite and later food intake.

On separate testing days, the teens were randomly assigned to eat the typical protein breakfast, the protein-rich breakfast, or to skip breakfast (control condition). Perceived appetite, satiety and hormonal responses were measured throughout a five-hour period, followed by a lunch buffet where the teens were told they could eat as much as they wanted. The teens completed a food record, documenting all food and beverages they consumed over the remaining 24 hours.

Results showed that the protein-rich breakfast led to greater reductions in appetite ratings four hours after the meal (before lunch) than did the typical protein breakfast or when breakfast was skipped. Those who ate the protein-rich breakfast also consumed about 130 fewer calories at lunch than did those who ate the typical protein breakfast or who skipped breakfast. Even though the total daily calorie intake did not differ between breakfast groups, the authors say the findings suggest that encouraging a protein-rich breakfast might be an effective way to help improve appetite control in young people.

For kids or teens who don’t eat school breakfast, incorporating milk, yogurt, cheese, or whey protein into the breakfast they eat at home is a great way to help boost protein content. Milk, yogurt and cheese are not only good sources of high-quality protein, but milk for example,  provides eight other essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D and B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents) to make breakfast count nutritionally.

Send your clients to the NDC website for recipes that can help add more protein to breakfast that both kids and adults will love.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Shake (To increase the amount of protein I add chocolate whey protein powder instead of cocoa powder)
Crustless Cheddar and Sun-Dried Tomato Mini Quiches (Eat warm or cold on the go)
Breakfast Wrap
Cinnamon Swirl Yogurt French Toast (Great for a weekend when there is more time for food preparation)

Also see the Dairy Council Digest, The Role of Protein in Satiety and Weight Management.

First Class Breakfast provides first class nutrition

On Monday, February 8th, I was thrilled as a representative of Dairy Max to accompany representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Texas Department of Agriculture to experience the groundbreaking program that Houston Independent School District (HISD) is implementing to provide free and healthy meals to Houston students helping them to reach their daily recommended servings of the “Food Groups to Encourage”.

HISD’s “First Class Breakfast” is an innovative program, developed in partnership with ARAMARK that delivers students a free, convenient and nutritious breakfast right to the classroom door shortly before the bell rings. The breakfasts must meet strict nutrient guidelines providing one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories. School breakfasts must meet federal nutrition requirements, but decisions about the specific foods to serve and their preparation are made locally. In HISD, that generally translates into each breakfast including a whole grain, protein, fruit and low-fat milk. Milk product consumption has been associated with overall diet quality and adequacy of intake of many nutrients including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, riboflavin, vitamin A, folate and vitamin D for children as stated in the most recent dietary guidelines.
According to the HISD press release for this event, when Dr. Terry Grier became HISD Superintendent last September, one of his main initiatives was to expand the district’s Breakfast in the Classroom program. HISD currently is adding ten middle and elementary schools a week as part of “First Class Breakfast.” When completely implemented it will be the largest program of its kind in the nation, serving breakfast to 130,000 kids a day inside the classrooms of 220 schools. That’s more than 80 percent of the students at HISD. Similar Breakfast in the Classroom programs exist elsewhere in the nation, but according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), HISD’s will be the largest.
Studies in Maryland show that eating breakfast improved school performance test scores and reduced suspensions. Additionally, a five year longitudinal study examining risk and protective factors for adolescent overweight found that greater frequency of breakfast consumption was protective of overweight. In a webinar presentation by Rampersaud in April 2009, an updated review of the Health Benefits of Breakfast for Children and Adolescents showed that along with nutrient intake and academic benefits, regular breakfast consumption is associated with beneficial effects on weight. The HISD School Breakfast Program will engage and educate children on making more nutrient-rich food choices. It was a great experience to interact with the children as they ate with Dr. Grier and watch them enjoy a nutritious breakfast that included a homemade kolache pastry made with white-whole wheat flour and filled with a lean turkey hot dog as well as a banana and low-fat milk. Serving nutrient-rich foods models an easy-to-understand way for children to get the nutrients they need within recommended calorie allowances.
The costs of “First Class Breakfast” are covered by the USDA’s National School Breakfast program as well as a donation from DairyMAX to assist HISD in getting the program operational. So far, the results and feedback from the participating schools have been amazing. The children, parents, teachers and principals love the program.  The program is uniquely designed and requires very little classroom time or cleanup.  The number of children eating breakfast in HISD has increased significantly (as much as 170 percent) at the participating schools. In addition to being free, the breakfasts are fresh as most of the items are made from scratch at HISD’s 220,000 square foot, state-of-the-art food service facility.
The National Dairy Council has been a long time supporter of Breakfast in the Classroom programs. This groundbreaking program is poised to serve as a model for the entire country on how breakfast is an important part of raising a generation of children who are fit, healthy and ready to learn.