Children in the United States do not eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Their diets instead consist of too much sugar and solid fats. This poor but inexpensive diet increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Low income students were selected to participate in a two-year intervention study, referred to as CHANGE (Creating Healthy, Active and Nurturing Growing-up Environments). The children consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables.
“Our primary objectives were to improve the diets, physical activity levels, and weight,” says lead investigator Christina Economos, PhD, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston.
“The objective of our analysis was to examine changes in fruit, vegetable, legume, whole-grain and low-fat dairy consumption among rural elementary students who were exposed to the CHANGE study intervention compared with students in control schools,” says lead author Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScM, ScD, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.
Students in the intervention sample were given daily access to healthier school foods and weekly educational curriculum. They received at least five servings of fruits and vegetables; no more than two hours of television or other screen time; and at least one hour of physical activity.
The mean age of the 1,230 participating students was 8.6 and about 85-95 percent was nonwhite. The results are published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
This is not a new theory – that low income children are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. In 2008 researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio conducted a study of 1,402 fourth grade students. The study found that children living in poverty are indeed at a higher risk of developing diabetes and need early detection and intervention.
A 1999 study of low income Mexican American children revealed that children in this environment ate more fat servings and had higher percent energy from fat and saturated fat than the recommended daily allowances.
In Lancaster there are many resources for low income families who find themselves in need of food resources. The United Way has put together a Directory of Food Resources, as well as other resources one may need. The directory includes information on area food banks and community meals. You do not have to be on food stamps to be eligible, although most are determined by income.
For more information on local resources, call the United Way at 717-394-0731.
This article was taken in part from a press release by Elsevier. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of diabetes, make an appointment with your physician.
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