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Posts Tagged ‘diet and exercise’

American children miss a total of 22 million school days each year due to the common cold and 38 million days because of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s that time of year again – fall flu season and nasty colds. With the kids going back to school it almost seems inevitable that your child will catch a little something that leads to coughing, running nose and a cold. Here are some great tips of how you can make your child one of the healthiest in his or her class!

Keep Hands Clean
Regular hand-washing dramatically reduces the passing of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, so get your kids in the habit of scrubbing up (or using a hand sanitizer) when they leave preschool or day care, after every playdate, and before they eat. Teach kids to sing “Happy Birthday” to themselves twice before rinsing — scrubbing for 15-20 seconds is key. Spray kitchen counters, doorknobs and sink handles with disinfectant once a day and remind your child to wash her hands frequently. Covering coughs and sneezes. Teach your youngsters to sneeze and cough into their elbows, rather than onto their hands. Hands will more likely touch toys and other children.

Exercise & Activity
Encourage a healthy lifestyle for your children, and you. A healthy diet, exercise (including playing safely outdoors while wearing sunscreen), and a good night’s sleep go a long way towards preventing illness. Studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. “Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle,” says Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., Parents advisor and author of Germ Proof Your Kids: the Complete Guide to Protecting (Without Overprotecting) Your Family from Infections (ASM Press, 2007).

Sleepy Time!
Make sure kids stick to an early bedtime. Most babies need approximately 14 hours of sleep a day; preschoolers need 11-13 hours of Z’s.

Avoid Touching His or Her Face
Try to avoid rubbing eyes, noses and mouths with dirty hands. However, most of us do so unconsciously — that’s why hand washing is so important. Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth, so help your child keep her hands away from those areas. Yes, it can be very difficult to accomplish — hand-washing at strategic moments is all the more important. Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush.

Balanced and Healthy Diet
Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child’s immune system. Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses. Breastfeeding also helps a child build a strong immune system. A study in the August 2009 “Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” showed that children age three to five who were given the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis had fewer fevers, coughs, runny noses and absences from school. If they did get sick, the children got better more quickly and didn’t need antibiotics as much as the children studied who were not given the probiotics.Children who weren’t breastfed get five times more ear infections later in life than those children who were, according to the MedlinePlus online medical encyclopedia, so breastfeed her for as long as possible.

Avoid Sharing Food at School
Avoid sharing food, cups or eating utensils. Pre-schoolers finger-dip and double-dip, so to each his own.

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First lady Michelle Obama walks through the White House east colonnade with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, second from right, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, as they meet regarding the childhood obesity initiative. By Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

How much do you know about First Lady, Michelle Obama’s, initiative to end child obesity in one generation? Today is her 1 year anniversary in her initiative, “Let’s Move.” I watched an interview with her on NBC’s Today Show this morning and it was very inspiring and relatable. I grew up with parents who worked all the time (wait a sec, they still do!), and it was often that we would pick up food or go out because it was “too late to cook.” Similarly, Michelle Obama’s daughters were 6 and 9, and like any other working mom — struggling to juggle office hours, school pick-ups and mealtimes. By the end of the day, she was often too tired to make dinner, so she did what was easy: She ordered takeout or went to the drive-through. 

What is the overall concept of “Let’s Move”?
Most parents would do anything for their kids and want to give them the best chance in the world to be their best. Let’s Move operates under the principle that every family wants the same thing for their kid.  

Let’s Move (letsmove.gov) aims to do for healthy eating and exercise what the government’s anti-smoking campaign did in the 1960s: change how people think about their health. 

Michelle Obama stressed in her interview today that she doesn’t want parents to beat themselves up if they slip up from time to time or get a little relaxed about the food they serve or the time their kids spend in front of a screen. 

“We don’t have to be 100% perfect,” she says. “My kids eat dessert. My kids watch TV. … I love burgers and fries, and I don’t want to live a life where I can never have them again. And if we told families and children that that was the answer, we’d never get there. The beauty is we don’t need to be 100% of the way there. If we get 20% of the way there, we will change the health status of our kids for a generation.” 

So what is her ultimate goal?
To eliminate childhood obesity in a generation.  

“It’s an ambitious goal, but we don’t have time to wait,” the first lady said in an interview with USA TODAY. “We’ve got to stop citing statistics and wringing our hands and feeling guilty, and get going on this issue.” 

She says about 32% of children and adolescents today — 25 million kids — are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I completely agree with her that the extra LBS. are putting kids at great risk! Risk of what?

  • type 2 diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • shorter lives 

Scary facts:
A 2005 study found that kids today may lead shorter lives by two to five years than their parents because of obesity.
Obesity costs the country a staggering $147 billion a year in weight-related medical bills, according to government data. 

How does Michelle Obama plan on doing it with her power in the White House?

  • more healthful food in schools
  • more accurate food labeling
  • better grocery stores in communities that don’t have them
  • public service announcements and efforts to get children to be more active. 

Her inspiration?
Upon moving into the white house – she took a year to settle her kids, but also got involved in a local elementary school where she set up an organic garden for the kids. “The garden was an important first step — just sort of exploring the ideas around nutrition and children,” Obama says. “I was curious to find out whether kids connected with this issue if we talked about it in terms of fun and gardening.” 

Image: By Mark Wilson, Getty Images

And they did. “Kids from urban environments, from households (like) mine, who were raised on fried foods and good, tasty stuff, were fully engaged in the process of planting these vegetables and watching them grow and harvesting them and cleaning them and cooking them and eating them, and writing about how vegetables were their friends,” she says. “So we thought we could be on to something here if we make this conversation a national conversation.”

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