With almost a fifth of children in American ages 6 to 19 considered obese, local families and officials are looking at encouraging healthy eating habits keep kids trim.
Paula Parcel’s son, age 12, was recently diagnosed with diabetes.
Parcel, of McPherson, said the diagnosis has not only changed the way her son eats, but her whole family.
The family especially pays close attention to carbs, because this dictates how much insulin her son needs.
Parcel said having better information about nutrition helps her help her son make better food choices.
She said she hopes new regulations required by the Affordable Care Act, which will require restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus and provide nutrition information, will help her son learn to eat well.
Jana McKinney, McPherson County K-State Research and Extension agent, said nutrition awareness is coming on as the next big health push in America. McKinney, who works with children and families in the local 4-H program, said educating children about nutrition is a crucial need in keeping America healthy.
“I think the more information consumers have, the better some of them will pay attention. ... I think nutrition education is going to hit home really soon. With tobacco, it took a lot of education and a long time to see the tide turn, but I think seeing calories will help consumers make healthier choices.”
Little ones learn by example, McKinney said. If adults make positive choices and order meals that have fewer calories, so will their children, she said.
McPherson parent Sarah Hendricks said being able to show children nutrition information reinforces the messages she is trying to teach her children about healthy eating.
“It is important to show our kids that we are not withholding popular snack foods to be mean,” he said. “They are so surrounded at school, birthday parities and the store by unhealthy foods. It is important to show them they can have enjoyable food that tastes good. We can show them the foods are doing what they are supposed to do to fuel their bodies, grow them strong and provide nutrients for their every day lives.”