Healthy Children - August 2013

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site not just for overweight children but the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding heavy children and healthy lifestyles -- be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen.



Why is Physical Activity Important?

Regular physical activity can produce long term health benefits. People of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities can benefit from being physically active. The more physical activity you do, the greater the health benefits.

Being Physically Active Can Help You:

  • Increase your chances of living longer
  • Feel better about yourself
  • Decrease your chances of becoming depressed
  • Sleep will at night
  • Move around more easily
  • Have stronger muscles and bones
  • Stay at or get to a healthy weight
  • Be with friends or meet new people
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun


When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:

  • Get heart disease
  • Get type 2 diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have a stroke


Physical activity and nuritition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less.

Some types of physical activity are especially beneficial:

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and make your heart beat faster. Aerobic activities can be moderate or vigorous in their intensity. Vigorous activities take more effort than moderate ones. For moderate activities, you can talk while you do them, but you can’t sing. For vigorous activities, you can only say a few words without stopping to catch your breath.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. These include activities like push-ups and lifting weights. It is important to work all the different parts of the body - your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.
  • Bone-strengthening activities, like jumping, are especially important for children and adolescents. These activities produce a force on the bones that promotes bone growth and strength.
  • Balance and stretching activities enhance physical stability and flexibility, which reduced risk of injuries. Examples are gentle stretching, dancing, yoga, martial arts, and t’ai chi.


Fruits and Vegetables

  • Protect against disease
  • Makes us full
  • Contain few calories and little or no fat


Choose whole fruit instead of juice


Fruits and vegetables help protect us against diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease because they are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease fighting compounds called anti-oxidants. The brighter and darker a fruit and vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.

The more colors you eat the better, because each color provides a different nutrient, helping to ensure that you have all the nutrients you need.

Fruits and vegetables are very good to eat when you are trying to lose weight because they contain a lot of water and fiber, which make us feel really full. They also have fewer calories per serving than most other foods.

Fruit juice contains a lot of calories and does not have the fiber that whole fruit does so it does not make us feel full. While it is an easy way to get in a serving of fruit, it is recommended that we only drink 1 serving or 3/4 cup of fruit juice a day.



Helping Kids Fight Obesity

Best Online Info Sources

Need trustworthy, up-to-date information on how to help your kids - or grandkids - avoid obesity? If so, you’ll want to take a look at the top-notch sources shown below. Sara Wilson, a registered dietitian and nutrition information specialist with the Food and Nutrition Information Center at ARS’s National Agricultural Library, in Beltsville, Maryland, selected these highly reliable sources as among the best.

empowerME - This kid-friendly venue helps youngsters motivate each other to be healthier by participating in polls, joining in conversations with peers about the challenges of - and solutions to - obesity and, perhaps best of all, sharing their own success stories. This site was created by the Alliance for a healthier Generation, which, at its own web pages ( , offers practical tips - like how parents can talk to their kids about obesity - and much more.

Nourish Interactive - And in Spanish at:
Vetted by nurses and registered dietitians, this energetic site teems with online games for kids, plus blogs, newsletters, health-hint calendars, lesson plans, and worksheets for parents and educators - all instantly accessible via a free log-in.

SmallStep Kids - Kids visiting this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site can take small steps to better health with fun games, quizzes, and TV public-service ads designed to entertain while encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. - Find yet more games here, plus recipes and other content offered by the International Food Information Council to help kids move more and eat better. - Health and medical experts share kid-focused information on all facets of health-including overweight and obesity-for his graphics-rich easy-to-navigate Nemours Foundation site. - Find smart choices for ordering fast food, or advice on how to achieve a healthy weight, at this award-winning, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services site for girls ages 10 to 16.

Weight Management and Obesity Resource List (2009) - Concerned about your child’s weight? You may want to go directly to page 24 of this comprehensive, helpful collection. Later, peruse the rest; more than 150 books, brochures, and articles on weight management and obesity, all carefully selected by the national Agricultural Library’s Food and Nutrition Information Center.

Weight Management for Youth - More than a dozen links to weight-management-oriented websites specifically for kids, teens, and parents are offered here.

We Can! - Online training and other aids featured at this National Institutes of Health site may help parents get their kids to make better food choices, be more active, and spend less time watching TV. - Plates help users achieve and maintain a health weight by explaining what - and how much - to eat from each of the food groups and by providing handy tools, such as menu planners, for creating healthy meals.

Healthy Youth! Childhood Obesity - The Centers for Disease control and Prevention provides links to sites with science-based strategies that schools and communities can use to tackle the obesity epidemic; see also this site’s statistics on the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center To Prevent Childhood Obesity - Get inspired by this organization’s array of strategies to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by the year 2015. Use the “Reversing the Epidemic” tab to find the “What Individuals and Families Can Do” link, offering practical suggestions that might work in your community.



Should I Give My Baby Extra Water?

Temperatures outside are heating up, and the fact that we are perspiring tells us we are losing body fluids. Many adults find themselves drinking more water to stay hydrated, but what about our children? In particular, what about babies? Should we all be drinking more water?

We lose body fluids continuously from perspiration, breathing, urine and stool, and we must rehydrate to stay energized. We are often encouraged to drink water to stay healthy, and water provides many health benefits. In hot weather, our bodies require extra water to energize muscles and to keep adequate fluids moving things along in our digestive tract. While drinking extra water on a hot day is recommended for adults and children over a year old, it is not helpful to babies.

In fact, extra water for infants younger than 6 months of age could lead to water intoxication, which is a cause of infant seizures in otherwise healthy babies.

It is all about balance - fluid balance. Extra water dilutes the sodium in a baby’s blood and flushes it out of the baby’s body. That reduces the amount of electrolytes in the body, altering brain activity, which can cause seizures.

Between 1975 and 1990, James Keating, MD, then a Washington University pediatric gastroenterologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, noticed a total of 34 infants treated in the emergency room with water intoxication. Thirty-one of the babies had too much water given to them by caretakers because they had run out of formula. As a result, Dr. Keating worked to modify the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to provide sufficient formula for growing infants. He also published research to educate mothers about the hazards of excessive water ingestion in order to reduce the incidence of this preventable, life threatening condition.

Parents should also avoid infant swimming lessons prior to age 1.

“Repeated dunking of infants can cause them to gulp water and has caused seizures in infants at the poolside.” Dr. Keating says.

The symptoms of drinking too much water are subtle for an infant but may include twitching, irritability that leads to inconsolable crying and difficulty breathing leading to seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

The bottom line is this, breastfeeding is best for your infant. Breast milk offers immunity protection and many neurodevelopment advantages. On extra hot days, breastfeed your baby more frequently. If unable to breastfeed, offer formula more frequently.



Got Apps?

Your child can have fun and learn with these apps that help develop motor skills, visual perception and organization.

If you are worried about a child’s excessive use of devices such as iPads, help make her screen time more productive with these helpful and entertaining apps.

Apps for children Age 2 and Younger

  • Duck Duck Moose apps, such as Puzzle Pop and Peek-a-Zoo are around $1.00 each and will elp increase your child’s motor skills. Many of these apps are appropriate for children age 2 and older, as well as adults.
  • Tiny Wings and Fruit Ninja, which are only $0.99, help improve hand-eye coordination by having kids control a bird with their fingers and chop up fruit as a tiny ninja. These apps are fun and appropriate for children of all ages.
  • Dots for Tots is also $0.99 and teaches younger children their letters, animals and numbers by having them connect dots and trace patterns.


Apps for Kids 3 - 5

  • Teachme apps, such as Teach Me: Kindergarten, provide age-specific, educational apps that help kids practice lower-level math and reading skills.
  • Jumpstart apps are for preschoolers and make learning a magical adventure. Many of the starter apps are free and feature Frankie the dog and his learning adventures.
  • Read-along storybooks, such as Toy Story and The Great Cookie Thief, are great for preschool-age children. Some are free, and most are under $5!


Organizational Apps for School-Age Children

  • Khan Academy is a free and education app that can help any school-age child learn subjects ranging from history to science. It is interactive and provides simple lessons for younger children as well as complex help for older children.
  • Everyday mathematics apps can help children between ages 5 and 10 learn basic mathematics. These apps are fun, easy and only around $1.99!
  • IAnnotate is an app that may help kids in middle and high school annotate PDFs and help them organize their schoolwork.


7 Food Safety Steps for Successful Community Meals

Whether preparing food for a family reunion or a community gathering, people who are great cooks at home don’t necessarily know how to safely prepare and store large quantities of food for large groups. Food that is mishandled can cause foodborne illness. However, by following some simple steps, volunteer cooks can make the event safe and successful!

  1. Plan Ahead - Make sure the location meets your needs.
    • Be sure you have enough oven, stovetop, refrigerator, freezer, and work space.
    • Find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning.
  2. Store & Prepare Food Safely
    • Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
    • Find separate preparation areas in the work space for rw and cooked food.
    • Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.
    • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water.
    • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
  3. Cook Food to Safe Minimum Internal Temperatures - It’s the only way to tell if harmful bacteria are destroyed!
    • Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry, casseroles, and other food. Check temperature in several places to be sure food is cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature.
    • Never partially cook food for finishing later because you increase the risk of bacterial growth.
  4. Transport Food Safely - Keep hot food HOT. Keep cold food COLD
    • Keep hot food at or above 140°F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.
    • Keep cold food at or below 40°F. Place in a cooler with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs.
  5. Need to Reheat? Food must be hot and steamy for serving. - Just “warmed up” is not good enough. Use the stove, oven, or microwave to reheat food to 165°F. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.
  6. Keep Food Out of the “Danger Zone” (40-140°F).
    • Keep hot food hot - at or above 140°F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
    • Keep cold food cold - at or below 40°F. Place food in containers on ice.
  7. When In Doubt, Throw it Out!
    • Discard food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F.
    • Place leftovers in shallow containers. Refrigerate or freeze immediately.



Healthy Eating Tips

Tips for Eating Healthy When Eating out

  • As a beverage choice, ask for water or order fat-free or low-fat mile, unsweetened tea, or other drinks without added sugars.
  • Ask for whole-wheat bread for sandwiches
  • In a restaurant, start your meal with a salad packed with veggies, to help control hunger and feel satisfied sooner.
  • Ask for salad dressing to be served on the side. Then use only as much as you want.
  • Choose main dishes that include vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs, or pasta with a tomato sauce.
  • Order steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sautéed.
  • Choose a small or medium portion. This includes main dishes, side dishes, and beverages.
  • Order an item from the menu instead of heading for the “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
  • If main portions at a restaurant are larger than you want, try one of these strategies to keep from overeating:
    • Order an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead of an entrée.
    • Share a main dish with a friend.
    • If you can chill the extra food right away, take leftovers home in a “doggy bag.”
    • When your food is delivered, set aside or pack half of it to go immediately.
    • Resign from the “clean your plate club” - when you’ve eaten enough, leave the rest.
  • To keep your meal moderate in calories, fat, and sugars:
    • Ask for salad dressing to be served “on the side” so you can add only as much as you want.
    • Order foods that do not have cream sauces or gravies.
    • Add little or no butter to your food.
    • Choose fruits for dessert most often.
  • On long commutes or shopping trips, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, low-fat string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts to help you avoid stopping for sweet or fatty snacks.