Teaching kids to eat healthy

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
February 27, 2008 3:47:19 PM PST
In addition to exercise, getting children to eat healthy is key to fighting obesity. And getting them to make good choices starts when they're young.Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg.

Most parents will agree that it is sometimes difficult to get their children to eat healthy. So in one neighborhood, kids are traveling to the source to get some learning from an expert.

A group of second graders took a field trip Wednesday, as a school, a hospital and a supermarket team up to teach children that there are ways to eat well and healthy.

Spotting sugar was one part of Dr.Lisa Altshuler's lessons today.

Dr. Altshuler, who runs the Kids Weight Down program at Maimonedes Hospital in Brooklyn, took a class of second graders from PS 206 on a teaching tour of the supermarket.

It's all about spotting and learning to choose healthy snacks.

Because pediatric obesity is such a major health problem in this country, it is important to work with kids when they are very young," Dr. Altshuler said. "To really help prevent the problem rather than trying to fix it once it's there."

Oreos, even sugar-free ones, are not on the healthy snacks list. But fresh fruits, dried fruits, raisins and yogurts certainly are.

"I'm teaching the kids about how to look at packaging and figure out when packaging really is misleading," she said. "We talk about checking out how much sugar is in products, and we also talk about choosing natural foods rather than more processed foods."

Dr. Altschuler does not teach good and bad foods, rather healthy foods and foods that are okay once in a while.

"Once you start forbidding foods, that's all kids can think about," she said.

And getting children involved in preparing healthy snacks is one effective method. The second graders also learned why good snacks were the better choice.

"They are good for your body," one student said.

"They help me grow stronger and healthier," another said.

Dr. Altschuler says parents need to make foods available. Cut up an apple and put it out. The child is much more likely to eat it than if you ask them if they want an apple. They'll probably say I want a cookie. But if the apple is cut up and in front of them, it's much easier to choose.

She says it is never too early to start learning about nutrition.