Promoting Healthful Eating Behaviors: The 6- to 8-Year Old (page 2)
As school children mature, peers, mass media, and school environment exert a greater influence upon eating behaviors. In response, teachers and parents should continue positive dietary practices:
- Help children recognize internal hunger cues, as distinguished from external influences such as TV commercials.
- Aid children in recognizing satiety and slowing down to avoid overeating.
- Invite children to participate in selecting and preparing foods.
- Encourage school programs to include fruits, vegetables, string cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, and breadsticks as staple choices and to reduce chips and treats.
- Support school policies requiring a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit access to vending machines.
- Model healthful eating and activity.
- Promote friendly conversations and social experiences at meals.
- Encourage tasting of new foods.
What Influences Eating Patterns?
Television and Media. Hours viewing television/videotapes and computer games by school-age children have increased, reaching an average of 2.5 hours per day for 6- to 7-year-olds and 4.5 hours per day for 8 years and older. Recent research by Robinson has identified a most direct causal relationship between TV viewing and obesity. In addition, television shows directed toward children notoriously advertise calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods, and carbonated beverages. Television or movie characters entice children to request these items, especially with packaging displaying favorite characters.
Family. Some studies show that preteens are influenced more by peer pressure than by parental actions. However, family income and economic status do influence the types and amounts of food purchased and where foods will be eaten (restaurants or in the home). Family structure and parental work schedules reduce the time available for preparing healthy meals at home. Busy families typically select convenience foods, fast foods, and restaurants.
Children at 6 to 8 years old can prepare some of their own meals, especially breakfast, from what is available in the kitchen. They can be responsible for choosing from 15% to 20% of their foods every day. With microwaves and prepackaged frozen microwave items, children have a wider variety of foods from which to choose and can learn at an earlier age to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. Resources like the USDA's Team Nutrition at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/ may help parents maintain healthy habits during this stage and make better choices for quick, nutritious food preparation at home.
School. As children spend more time at school they make more of their own food decisions; parents have less control over what their children eat. Responsibility rests with the school system to provide at least one-third of recommended nutrients for children participating in school lunches, and at least one-half if breakfast is eaten at school. An after-school care provider may provide another 150 to 300 calories (for example, with crackers or cookies and milk), 10% to 15% of energy and nutrients. Parents, therefore, may be responsible for less than 40% of total energy needs, serving children only one meal per day.
After-school providers are challenged to select children's menus from available and accepted foods. Menus should provide nutrients that help children maintain a desirable body weight and contribute to growth and development. Teachers, coaches, and after-school providers influence children's food choices through their words of advice and their behaviors. Getting involved in the food programs at school and demonstrating a positive attitude toward nutritious foods served at school will encourage children to adopt healthful eating behaviors. Likewise, complaining about food service influences children negatively. Teachers should support the food service, or if changes are needed, they should help make changes.
Schools can access a variety of resources to improve health such as the USDA's Team Nutrition at http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/.
Carbonated Beverages. Carbonated beverages have become commonplace in children's diets. Calories from sodas account for a higher proportion of caloric intake in obese children.
The influence of media, schools, and the use of snack foods and carbonated beverages will affect children's eating patterns. Evaluate each area for its contribution to weight abnormalities. Individual or school-wide goals can be developed to reduce the impact on children.
© ______ 2004, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- The Homework Debate
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- Problems With Standardized Testing