Last week turned hectic because my daughter’s sickness spread to the rest of us. It wasn’t as bad as last time but it still threw the whole week off. I never got to the Red Beans and Rice but I did make the Chicken Pesto Parm. I haven’t had much success with producing tasty and moist baked chicken, but the mixture of parmesan and pesto worked beautifully. I know I’ll make this one again soon.
I’m looking forward to this week’s meals because I have an incredible new cookbook to try. I’m going to review it soon but first want to test a few recipes. For Wednesday slow-cook day, I’m going to make my favorite stew-like meals before the weather gets too hot. I’m usually not a fan of stews but this one rocks.
For more meals plans go to Org Junkie.
What’s Cooking This Week
Monday: Black Bean Burritos, guacamole and toppings
Tuesday: Ravioli with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes, bread and salad (new cookbook — recipe forthcoming).
Wednesday: Italian Chicken with White Beans, Parmesan Crusted Asparagus and bread.
Will have salmon/tuna for lunch to make up for this week’s fish deficit.
Three months ago news of the Let’s Move campaign to fight childhood obesity, and Michelle Obama’s leading role, took center stage. The new White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity promised the public a “plan of action” in 90 days.
And they delivered on that promise.
Last week the Task Force revealed their 124-page report to the President: Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity within a Generation.
I did not read the entire document word for word (but you can!) but concentrated more on the recommendations.
The five areas the taskforce focus on include Early Childhood, Empowering Parents and Caregivers, Healthy Food in Schools, Increasing Access to Healthy and Affordable Food and Increasing Physical Activity.
The Early Childhood section includes ways to increase breastfeeding, improve the quality of prenatal care and childcare settings and make the American Academy of Pediatrics screen time guidelines (2 hours or less) more available.
Empowering Parents and Caregivers focuses on ways to disseminate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (out soon) and to improve food labels and food at restaurants (with calorie counts for both vending machines and establishments).
Marketing unhealthy foods took center stage in this section. The taskforce recommends no advertising to kids, even in-store. They recommend media and licensing of popular characters only be allowed for healthy food. And if this doesn’t work they recommend the FCC consider new rules all together.
There will also be a heavy focus on BMI at pediatrician offices and at schools. This means weight is likely to be checked at schools and kids would go home with a note for parents.
Pediatricians and schools will provide tips to parents on ways they can help their overweight children. If things don’t improve more intense treatments may be recommended.
Healthy Food in Schools covers the importance of nutrition education, improving resources for healthy meals, establishing farm-to-school programs and updating nutrition standards for meals and expanding them to a la carte and vending.
In order to improve Access to Healthy Affordable Food, the taskforce recommends a multi-year, multi-agency healthy food financing initiative to improve the food at underserved urban and rural communities. They also recommend incentives to grocery stores to include more healthy food as well as wellness policies at public and provide facilities that serve children.
The last one, Increasing Physical Activity, includes ways to decrease the cost of sports, increase recess and physical education classes and make “active transport” a reality for more kids. Basically active transport is walking or biking to school. According to the report, 13% of kids currently walk to school compared to 44% in 1969. Some ideas including walking school buses with adults walking kids to school.
What I don’t like
I’m having trouble with the Empowering Parents and Caregivers section. Not much of what they recommend is empowering at all, especially the concentration on marketing to children.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a proponent of marketing to kids. But how do these messages empower parents? Instead of telling parents they are powerless to advertising, let’s tell them they are the biggest influence on their kids’ eating. A study published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology showed that parents who talked to their kids about the nature of advertising and provided limits/structure on such foods, had kids that were less impacted by advertising. Restricting advertising only worked for young children (<8 years).
And there is no mention of family meals or how to feed kids. How can this message not be included when study after study shows the benefits of family meals on weight, fruit and vegetable intake and disordered eating? Instead it’s the same old focus on the “what” of eating, telling parents of overweight children to eat healthy. Don’t they already know that?
I’m still concerned how this focus on weight will play out. How will pediatricians counsel families? Maybe having a dietitian on staff would help? And they don’t mention anything about making health tips a family affair. Successful childhood weight management programs that have been shown to effective, such as Shapedown, include the whole family in the process.
I could go on but I won’t. I just know that information alone will not motivate people to change. We need to remove their barriers. They will take the note and tips from the doctor and go home to the same roadblocks. When I first started working as a dietitian, I counseled patients this way and most never returned for follow up.
What I like
I like the increasing physical activity section, especially the idea on active transport. Finding ways kids can have activity naturally built into their environment is key. And making exercise a regular part of their school day is vital.
I also hope that schools get more resources to help them expand their nutritious meals. And the ideas for increasing healthy foods in more communities sound pretty good.
I’m curious what you all think about this. As a parent, do you think much about this obesity epidemic? Sometimes I think this “childhood obesity” conversation is only being had by health professionals, policy makers and food enthusiasts.
Have a great week and let me know your thoughts!