American Dietetic Association and Foundation Cites Opportunities To Improve Kids' Health

A new report from the American Dietetic Association and its Foundation reveals the current realities of kids' and families' eating and activity behaviors in the U.S. and how they relate to the prevalence of obesity and malnourishment, as well as unique opportunities and strategies to improve the health of our nation's youth.

The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Report addresses the status of children's nutrition and physical activity through a comprehensive analysis of research from the nation's top food, nutrition and health associations, including results from the American Dietetic Association Foundation's 2010 Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey.

"While a shocking 17 percent of our nation's children are obese, most children are also lacking critical nutrients in their diets, leaving them in a state of malnourishment. On top of that, they are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity their bodies need to grow and thrive," said registered dietitian Dr. Katie Brown, national education director for the ADA Foundation in a prepared statement.

"We must ensure that kids begin to eat the foods they are not consuming in sufficient amounts – whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats and beans, and low-fat and fat-free dairy, and spend time getting at least an hour of physical activity daily."

The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Report presents troubling information regarding the foods and nutrients our children are eating too much of, or not eating at all, and the steps that need to be taken to improve eating behaviors and health. However, it also unveils a newfound interest of children and their parents to begin making changes to lead healthier lives. Utilizing this interest, the report then outlines areas of opportunity for improvement, involving parents and children, as well as registered dietitians and other health professionals.

"While, in some ways, this report paints a startling picture, it also serves as a 'call to action' for registered dietitians to engage families and communities on the grassroots level under the umbrella of the Kids Eat Right campaign," Brown said.

The State of Family Nutrition and Physical Activity Report provides a foundation for the recently launched Kids Eat Right campaign, an initiative of ADA and its Foundation designed to promote healthy eating and prevent childhood obesity by enlisting registered dietitians and mobilizing ADA's 71,000 members in public education projects and programs. The program also aims to be a useful resource for parents and families through practical information – tips, articles, recipes and videos on its website, www.KidsEatRight.org.

According to Brown, the report supports Kids Eat Right and registered dietitians by outlining unique opportunities and strategies to improve the quality of children's eating behaviors and increase their levels of physical activity. Opportunities identified and built into Kids Eat Right include maximizing parental influence, encouraging healthy family routines and promoting the availability of healthy foods for children wherever they eat.

Information in this report should be a wakeup call for many Americans, but at the same time it provides us with a road map and strategies for making a positive impact in the health of our youth, and the future generations of Americans.

The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.

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