Classroom Celebrations Can and Should be Healthy
December 18, 2011
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By: Stacy Sawyer
Many schools will be holding holiday parties next week where the students get to take a break from the daily grind of school work to celebrate the season. Before the celebration kicks off, your little one will most likely need to provide a snack for the party, which also means you may need to make one more trip to the grocery store for that said item. But the good news is not only will the kids have fun, but you have the opportunity to make an impact on all of the student's health in your child's classroom.
With childhood obesity now being the No. 1 health concern among parents in the U.S., the classroom holiday party is a great opportunity to encourage healthy eating habits amongst our kids. Typically the holiday parties consist of cookies, chips, cup cakes, candy canes, punch, along with other high calorie treats. Sounds like a yummy time, but keep in mind that about one in three American children is overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963, according to the American Heart Association.
A single classroom celebration can have as many as 300 calories, which can be 1/3 of the child's daily caloric intake. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Education, and Behavior; found that when fruit was an option at a child's classroom party, the calorie intake dropped from 344 to 455 down to 259 to 405 calories. So this year, steer clear of the cookie and chip aisle and head to the produce section to find some fresh fruits that are nice and sweet this time of year.
Some ideas for healthy snacks include:
Cheese or cheese sticks
Fruit (apples, grapes, oranges, raisins)
Trail Mix (low calorie)
Another way to help our kids be healthy is to get them active. The Heart Association recommends children get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Instead of having the focus of the party be food, ask your child's teacher if the party can include activities and maybe even volunteer to coordinate some.
Ideas for classroom activities:
Go to the gym and play a game
Have a Scavenger Hunt
Have some hula hoops or jump ropes for students to use
Plan an art project
Together we can help our kids be healthier and obesity can be stopped. It doesn't take high-tech treatments or cutting-edge medications; it just takes some smart choices every day. For more information on how the American Heart Association is fighting childhood obesity and to get involved, visit www.yourethecure.org
Communications Director -- American Heart Association
I invite your questions and feedback
Stacy Sawyer is the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association. She can be reached at (989) 225-7513.
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