Texas Pediatrician Dr. Katalenas Praises New USDA Standards for School Snack Nutrition and Encourages Parents to Take Action in the Classroom to Fight Childhood Obesity

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Parents offered four ways to take action in the classroom to improve the quality of snacks during school parties and events.

Dr. Katalenas, pediatrician and author of “The Step Up Diet” is asking parents to help change the way children eat at school in support of the USDA’s recommendations for new school snack standards

The “Snacks in School” program, proposed by the USDA is the first step to create national standards for snacks available during school hours. The new recommendations come from the Institute of Medicine, and are based on healthy food options already in the marketplace, and the voluntary actions taken by schools across the country.

The new standards recommend that whole grains, low fat dairy, protein and produce be the main ingredients in all snacks provided during the school day. Parents will still be allowed to bring snacks to school for special occasions such as bake sales and fundraisers.

While the school snack standards proposed by the USDA are still under review, parents are still faced with their children being offer mountains of cupcakes, cookies, and candy during school parties and events. In a recent Twitter Chat hosted by ABC News on the issue of childhood obesity, Angela Haupt, health and wellness editor for U.S. News and World Report offered this startling statement, “48 student birthdays = 48 cupcakes at 300 calories a piece = 14,400 extra calories/year”, drawing attention to the shear volume of empty calories children are encouraged to consume in the name of celebrating their classmates birthdays.

Dr. Katalenas asked Paige Balius, Healthy Lifestyles Chair for the Round Rock ISD Council of PTAs, to offer suggestions to help parents fight childhood obesity and make changes in school classrooms that will promote healthier snacks. Balius lists four important ways parents can take action themselves and suggests positive ways to talk with teachers and parents about the quality of school snacks.

1. Offer to help plan the party. Your direct involvement can steer things in a healthier direction for the entire class.

2. Voice your concern in a non-judgmental way. By voicing your interest in the issue of childhood obesity, you’re elevating the conversation to an issue everyone should be concerned about.

3. Recruit support from like-minded parents. By showing that healthier classroom snack options is important to several parents, you will more easily gain support from the teacher and other parents.

4. Propose a completely different kind of party than one centered on food. Find ways to incorporate physical activity and games into class party traditions.

About Dr. Katalenas:
Dr. Marta Katalenas is a pediatrician, author and professional speaker on the subjects of pediatric health, childhood obesity and healthy eating. Her book, The Step Up Diet, From Scratch... The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity, is available on Amazon.com. She is the owner of Pediatric Center of Round Rock, located in the Austin, TX metro area.

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