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Back-to-School Nutrition Tips

September 6, 2011

WAUKESHA, Wis. - Increasing portion sizes, poor nutrition, eating out more and lack of exercise all contribute to the growing problem of childhood obesity, according to the American Heart Association.

When it comes to packing a child's school lunch, says Dr. Heather Sielaff, a pediatrician at Waukesha's Pro Health Care Medical Associates, the ideal lunch involves teamwork.

"It's really a compromise between you and your children, as far as picking something that's fresh, that's healthy, like the fruits and vegetables, and then maybe adding something that will make them actually go for that product that you want them to eat, like the dips or a little peanut butter, or a little yogurt that they can add to it."

Sielaff sees the problems of poor nutrition every day in her practice. One in three American children is overweight or obese, and she sees in her young patients a broad range of health problems that previously weren't seen until adulthood.

When it comes to making good food choices, Sielaff said, kids imitate their parents.

"Children are going to in the end follow their parents' examples. So it's really important that you sit down with your family at dinner time, that you pack the healthy things at lunch, and that you lead by example on the weekends and when your kids see you."

One easy way to cut down on your children's extra calories is to be very careful to limit sugar-sweetened beverages, she says.

"Even fruit juices have a ton of extra calories and not a lot of nutrients behind it. And so picking low-calorie beverages is really important; certainly an easy way to take out somewhere between 200 to 600 calories that kids consume that give them no nutritional benefit."

Sielaff says an easy way to get tips on developing healthy eating habits, buying quality foods at reasonable prices, and even dealing with picky eaters, is to visit

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI