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A "Placemat" for Healthy Eating

This placemat has a message for Kentucky kids: eat healthily. (Greg Stotelmyer)
This placemat has a message for Kentucky kids: eat healthily. (Greg Stotelmyer)
September 18, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Diabetes is increasing among Kentucky children, prompting health experts and educators to join forces to help kids and their parents understand the importance of eating healthy.

On National Healthy Lunch Day, placemats full of nutrition tips will be given to elementary students and be available online and at county extension offices across the state.

Dr. Laura Hieronymus, a diabetes expert at UK HealthCare, says with Kentucky in the "diabetes belt" it's vital that healthy eating habits begin early.

"Children adapt, they often mimic what they see," she says. "And so if they're seeing healthy as being promoted in front of them it makes a big difference. If we eat healthily, they're more likely to eat healthily."

Hieronymus is a member of the board of directors at the American Diabetes Association, which has teamed up with UK HealthCare and Passport Health Plan on this year's campaign. In addition to tips on healthy eating, the colorful placemats include fun activities that kids can do with their families.

About 193,000 Americans under age 20 have been diagnosed with diabetes. Hieronymous says the earlier you can curb bad eating habits, the better chance you have of heading off diabetes.

"If you're young and if you aren't eating healthy, and then the light bulb goes off later in life, it depends on where your health status is," she adds. "For example, if you're already overweight or even obese your risk is higher for developing diabetes."

More than 30 million Americans, nearly one in ten, have diabetes and it is the seventh-leading cause of death.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY