Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Healthy Food Choices at School Cultivates Good Eating Habits at Home

Health + Wellness
Healthy Food Choices at School Cultivates Good Eating Habits at Home

Children's diets improve outside the schoolhouse when their schools adopt healthy nutrition policies and practices that emphasize whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

According to new research published in the current issue of Childhood Obesity, when schools made snacks available that were mostly or entirely healthful, students' overall diet improved.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will ask schools to implement its Smart Snacks nutrition standards on July 1, 2014. Those recommendations will set limits on calories, salt, sugar and fat in foods and beverages, as well as promote snack foods with more whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables.

In the study, team of researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) tested standards similar to the USDA's new requirements and demonstrated the new standards have the potential to improve students' overall eating habits.

For example, schools that offered healthful snacks a la carte at lunchtime or in vending programs boosted their students' overall daily consumption of fruit by 26 percent, vegetables by 14 percent and whole grains by 30 percent. Students also increased their consumption of fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and C.

"When healthful food options are offered, students will select them, eat them and improve their diet," said lead researcher Katherine Alaimo, MSU associate professor of food, science and human nutrition. "Our study shows that schools can make the kinds of changes required by the forthcoming USDA guidelines and these changes can have a positive impact on children's nutrition."

The researchers also compared schools that adopted a variety of nutrition programs and policies. Some schools made limited changes, while others implemented more comprehensive programs to assess and improve the school's nutrition environment.

Changes schools made included raising nutrition standards for snacks and beverages, offering taste tests of healthful foods and beverages to students, marketing healthful foods in school and removing advertisements of unhealthful foods. Students' overall diets improved when schools implemented three or more new nutrition practices or policies.

"Creating school environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice allows students to practice lessons learned in the classroom and form good habits at an early age, laying a foundation for a healthy future," said Shannon Carney Oleksyk, contributing author and healthy living adviser for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

A sea turtle rescued from Israel's devastating oil spill. MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP via Getty Images

Rescue workers in Israel are using a surprising cure to save the sea turtles harmed by a devastating oil spill: mayonnaise!

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A "digital twin of Earth." European Space Agency

As the weather grows more severe, and its damages more expensive and fatal, current weather predictions fall short in providing reliable information on Earth's rapidly changing systems.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Melting ice in places such as Greenland could stop a critical ocean current. Paul Souders / Getty Images

The climate crisis could push an important ocean current past a critical tipping point sooner than expected, new research suggests.

Read More Show Less
California Gov. Gavin Newsom tours the Chevron oil field west of Bakersfield, where a spill of more than 900,000 gallons flowed into a dry creek bed, on July 24, 2019. Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

By Brett Wilkins

Accusing California regulators of "reckless disregard" for public "health and safety," the environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom for approving thousands of oil and gas drilling and fracking projects without the required environmental review.

Read More Show Less
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Kenyan professor Wangari Maathai poses during the COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark on December 15, 2009. Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty Images

By Kate Whiting

From Greta Thunberg to Sir David Attenborough, the headline-grabbing climate change activists and environmentalists of today are predominantly white. But like many areas of society, those whose voices are heard most often are not necessarily representative of the whole.

Read More Show Less