Thursday, April 19, 2012

Children with high blood pressure?!

High blood pressure among school-aged children is on the rise! This increasing numbers of children with hypertension and diabetes indicates a serious national crisis in children’s health. [1] And, experts link this crisis to diet and nutrition.
It's time to sound the alarm!

The reality is that children need help learning what's good for them to eat, because junk food (which has lots of calories, but little to no nutritional value) tastes great and is hard to resist, even for adults! Moms and dads work hard to teach our children to eat right. At home, we offer balanced meals and encourage them to make healthy choices. But when they are at school, the snack food options can be limited. In order to make healthy choices, our children need healthy options!

*Now, parents have a chance to promote healthier snacks in schools! Tell the USDA: Promote the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)! Click here:

This is critical! Today more than 23 million children and teens in the U.S. are overweight or obese. [2] Junk food snacks and sugary drinks at school contribute to the epidemic. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “…the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables and fruits include lower blood pressure; reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and probably some cancers; lower risk of eye and digestive problems; and a mellowing effect on blood sugar that can help keep appetite in check.“ [3]

What's the FFVP?

The FFVP is the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program of the USDA, which helps elementary schools replace junk food snacks with fruits and vegetables. And it works! Students who currently participate in the program consume, on average, an extra quarter cup of fruits and vegetables per day! That's a great start! Now we need to get FFVP in more schools.
Our kids need the FFVP program. Here is why:
  1. Over the last four decades, rates of obesity have more than quadrupled in children and more than tripled in adolescents. [4]
  2. Schools have a big impact on children’s diets. Studies show that children and teens consume 35 to 50 percent of their total daily calories at school. [5, 6]
  3. Kids eat less of their lunch, consume more fat, take in fewer nutrients and gain weight when schools offer unhealthy snacks and drinks outside of meals. [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]
  4. The sale of low‐nutrition foods at schools (outside of school meals) is associated with increases in children’s body mass index (BMI). [14]
We need to make sure that more children are offered fruits and vegetables for snacks at school! Take action now by asking the USDA to promote and standardize the FFVP! Click here:

By providing healthier foods, we end up with healthier kids, and we know from scientific research that healthier kids can do better in school. [15]

Let's face it: Junk foods and sugary drinks surround many children throughout the school day. About 40 percent of all students buy and eat one or more snacks at school; 68 percent buy and consume at least one sugary drink. [16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] Imagine if fruits and vegetables surrounded kids instead!

Tell USDA you support the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)! Sign-on here:

Improving children’s dietary habits through programs like this one will help kids stay healthful, reducing their risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other serious chronic diseases.
Together, we are a powerful force for our children!

-       Monifa, Kristin, Ruth, Ashley and the whole MomsRising team

[1] Washington Post -
[3] Harvard School of Public Health -
[4] Public Health Law Center -
[5] Gleason P, Suitor C. Food for thought: children’s diets in the 1990s. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.; 2001.
[6] Briefel RR, Wilson A, Gleason PM. “Consumption of low-nutrient, energy-dense foods and beverages at school, home, and other locations among school lunch participants and nonparticipants.” J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:Suppl-90.
[7] Larson N, Story M. “Are Competitive Foods Sold at Schools Making Our Children Fat?" Health Affairs 2010, vol. 29(3), pp. 430‐435.
[8] Fox MK, Gordon A, Nogales R, Wilson A. “Availability and Consumption of Competitive Foods in US Public Schools.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2009, vol. 109, pp. S57‐S66.
[9] Cullen KW, Zakeri I. “Fruits, Vegetables, Milk, and Sweetened Beverages Consumption and Access to a la Carte/Snack Bar Meals at School.” American Journal of Public Health 2004, vol. 94, pp. 463–467.
[10] Kubik MY, Lytle LA, Hannan PJ, Perry CL, Story M. “The Association of the School Food Environment with Dietary Behaviors of Young Adolescents.” American Journal of Public Health 2003, vol. 93, pp. 1168‐1173.
[11] Kakarala M, Keast DR, Hoerr S. “Schoolchildren’s Consumption of Competitive Foods and Beverages, Excluding a la Carte.” Journal of School Health 2010, vol. 80, pp. 429‐435.
[12] Rovner AJ, Nansel TR, Wang J, Iannotti RJ. “Food Sold in School Vending Machines Is Associated with Overall Student Dietary Intake.” Journal of Adolescent Health 2011, vol. 48, pp. 13‐19.
[13] Schwartz MB, Movak SA, Fiore SS. “The Impact of Removing Snacks of Low Nutritional Value from Middle Schools.” Health Education & Behavior 2009, vol. 36(6), pp. 999‐1011.
[14] Kubik M, Lytle L, Story M. “Schoolwide Food Practices Are Associated with Body Mass Index in Middle School Students.” Archive of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 2005, vol. 159, pp. 1111‐1114.
[16] Fox, et al., 2009.
[17] Bridging the Gap. School Policies and Practices for Improving Children’s Health: National Elementary School Survey Result: School Years 2006‐07 through 2009‐10.
[18] Story M. “The Third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study: Findings and Policy Implications for Improving the Health of US Children.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009, vol. 109, pp.S7-S13.
[19] Fox, et al., 2009.
[20] Briefel, et al., 2009.
[21] Turner, et al., 2012.

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