Highlights of the February Journal of the American Dietetic Association

January 28, 2005

The February 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this month's articles. For more information or to receive a faxed copy of a Journal article, e-mail media@eatright.org.

Parents' and Teachers' Views on the Middle School Food Environment
The rising rates of childhood obesity have refocused the awareness on the important role schools have in promoting healthy eating among kids. Public health organizations, government officials and educators are all trying to provide the necessary resources to help prevent obesity at all ages. What do parents and teachers think about the nutrition environment in their children's schools?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota surveyed parents and teachers from 16 middle schools to learn their perspectives about kids' eating practices, food choices offered at school and school-related policies.

Among their findings:
  • Most parents and teachers agree that the nutritional health of students should be a school priority but only 18 percent of parents and 31 percent of teachers believe schools give adequate attention to student nutrition.
  • A large majority of parents and teachers (90 percent) agree that healthy snacks and beverages should be available in school vending machines and in cafeterias.
  • Most parents (87 percent) and teachers (95 percent) believe that it is important to address eating practices during adolescence.

    A Closer Look at Children's Fiber Consumption Patterns
    Including enough fiber in your diet not only protects against constipation, but it has also been shown to have many other health benefits for adults and children alike, including decreased risk of some cancers, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But according to researchers from Pennsylvania State University, children may not be consuming enough fiber each day.

    Current National Academy of Sciences recommendations are that adults and children should consume 14 grams of fiber per every 1,000 calories. However the Pennsylvania State University researchers found few American preschoolers are consuming the recommended amounts of fiber.

    The fiber that children are eating comes from sources such as low-fiber fruits like applesauce or fruit cocktail; soy and legumes (beans); high-fiber cereals like shredded wheat or all bran; high-fat grain-based dishes like pizza and high-fat salty snacks. Higher-fiber fruits and vegetables were consumed in quantities too small to contribute to total average fiber intake.

    "Although our data indicates that children with higher dietary fiber consumption have better diets, it is not clear at which level of fiber consumption this beneficial effect becomes significant enough to warrant a general intake recommendation," say the researchers.

    The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.
    With nearly 70,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Based in Chicago, ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. Visit ADA at www.eatright.org.

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