Health is Wealth

Written by Ann E. Butenas

With April as Global Child Nutrition Month, it is the perfect time to focus on raising healthy kids today for a healthier world tomorrow.

“Investing early in childhood nutrition is a surefire strategy. The returns are incredibly high.”  (Anne Mulcahy, former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation)

The month of April holds a very important event that is recognized globally: Global Child Nutrition Month. Children are the future of the world, so it is important to bring them up in a world where they have ample opportunities to succeed intellectually, culturally, and beyond. In order to accomplish this, we have to develop ways they are properly fed, provided for, and have the resources to live healthy, nourished, and productive lives.

This month of awareness was initially presented by the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) in 2006, with a focus on school children in need and improving their access to nutritional food. It’s an unfortunate truth that millions of children around the world are lacking proper nutrition at mealtime. The GCNF partners with local farmers in order to acquire healthy food and elevate local economies in all parts of the world. With proper nutrition, children are better prepared to focus and learn so they can strive for future success and achieve their potential.

Studies have shown that a school meal program does more than just provide sustenance.  It also encourages increased class attendance. In turn, this will lead to a more educated populace.

How to support healthy eating, especially where it matters most: at home

If your freezer is full of frozen pizza and popsicles, that’s probably a strong indication that nutrition might be lacking in your family’s diet. As your children grow, their bodies require extra attention. As such, a great start to focus on healthy eating begins with making smart food choices. This includes the following:

  • Eating together as a family.
  • Incorporating ample vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods into your daily menu.
  • Inviting your children to be a part of the daily meal planning. You would be surprised how much kids actually like healthy food options, especially if they do not have access to the junk food.
  • If you tend to reward yourself and your family with food, switch up the reward. Instead, offer to do a fun activity together.
  • Learning to cook. This tends to be a lost art anymore, but when you learn to cook, you can control the ingredients you put into your food. Make cooking a fun family activity, and if your kids are old enough, consider having each one cook a meal one night a week. Plan fun menus together, too. When you acclimate your kids to eating healthy when they are young, those habits are more likely to follow them as they grow older.

A local focus

Locally, the center for Children’s Health Lifestyles & Nutrition (located on the first floor of the Donald Chisholm Building on the Children’s Mercy Kansas City Campus) is part of a local, regional, national, and even international movement to help prevent and treat issues childhood obesity, as well as to encourage healthy lifestyles in children and in their families. With a state-of-the-art facility, this organization is supported by members at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Children’s Mercy Kansas City, and many other local organizations that work together to solve health issues that plague children and their families throughout the region.

Additionally, the Office of Child Nutrition in Kansas City ensures each student has access to healthy meals while they are at school, while at the same time removing any barriers to a child’s ability to receive that food.

From the kitchen to the classroom, proper nutrition is an integral part of each child’s day. This not only has a positive impact on their day. It also inspires students to embrace healthy eating habits that will serve them well for a lifetime.

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