Obese Children Epidemic: How Our Healthy Heroes Instruct Kids about Good Nutrition



Obese Children Epidemic

Teaching children about good nutrition is more important than ever because childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 30 years.

Since 1980, the percentage of obese children ages 6-11 in the U.S. increased from 7 to 18 percent in 2010. Obesity leads to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and puts children at risk for heart disease, diabetes. Living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy diet can help prevent risks.

Nutrition expert Jim Scharnell, President & CEO of Quality Catering, believes that teaching kids to eat healthy at a young age will get them off to a good start. "If we can get children preschool age to understand why they should be eating the green things on their plate, we've got them off to a good start," he says. "Eating is part of living. And healthy living is what good nutrition is all about."

Scharnell collaborated with a teacher to create multiple lesson plans to teach children about nutrition. They are designed to be creative, while also being interactive with the schools' lunch menus. For example, during the day that the Healthy Hero "Carol Carrot" lesson plan is taught, carrots will be incorporated into that day's lunch menu. Here's a list of the Healthy Heroes at the company's website at http://www.QualityCateringforKids.com.

Abe Apple: Abe Apple teaches that apples contain lots of nutrients and are a good source of fiber and natural energy. Abe also teaches that it is OK to eat brown apples because fresh cut apples only turn brown when they are exposed to oxygen in the air.

Ben Broccoli: Ben Broccoli emphasizes the importance of being open to trying new foods. He teaches about heart healthy vegetables that help fight sickness, and often these vegetables are found in combination with other foods such as chicken teriyaki. Though students may be used to traditional menu items such as pizza and chicken nuggets, Ben Broccoli also shows how much fun it can be to try new things.

Max Meatball: Through his idea of a chili dog, Max Meatball shows how you can incorporate "yummy veggies, meat and beans" into a nutritious meal that includes vitamins, minerals and proteins. What once was a simple hot dog is now a tasty lunchroom favorite.

Wilma Wheat Bread: Wilma Wheat Bread shows her friend Anna why switching from white bread to whole wheat bread can be beneficial for her health. Wilma explains that while white bread might be tastier, whole wheat bread contains more vitamins and other nutrients such as fiber. The benefits of wheat bread are clear: Not only is fiber good for your blood, but it also helps regulate your digestive system. People who eat high-fiber foods have fewer heart attacks and strokes than those who don't.

Owen Orange: Owen Orange relates the body to a car, hinting that "nutritional fuel" is needed for "peak performance." Fruits contain this "fuel" in the forms of healthy carbs, proteins, fats and minerals. Oranges and other fruits are a quick and healthy snack to grab while on the go.

Larry Lima Bean: Finding foods that contain a healthy balance of iron and protein can be challenging for people who don't eat meat. Larry Lima Bean suggests that beans are a great alternative for meat in popular items such as burritos. For example, burritos with refried beans are full of iron.

Suzy Spaghetti: Did you know that there are over 600 different types of pasta? Suzy Spaghetti and her friend Rita Rigatoni list the benefits of eating pasta in a well balanced diet. Pasta is a good source of protein and also contains carbohydrates, which provide energy to your body.

Carol Carrot: The richest source of Vitamin A is found in carrots. Carol Carrot teaches in this lesson that vitamins are essential to our bodies. However, our bodies cannot make them ourselves. Although we may not understand everything there is to know about vitamins, we do know that our bodies need them in small amounts.

Mortimer Milk: Mortimer Milk teaches the importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet. It is important to incorporate items from all five food groups into our diet.

Bridget Banana: Similar to bananas, plantains are loaded with healthy things like vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Plantains are a great substitute to a banana as they can be cooked or fried and are enjoyed by people everywhere.

Pricilla Pea: Pricilla Pea tells the story on how many vegetables can be eaten many ways. Vegetables like peas are loaded with nutrients. They're even fun to eat with meats such as chicken which is loaded with protein.

Charlene Cheese: Most kids don't know that pizza can be delicious and healthy. By loading your pizza with vegetables, what once was a plain meal is now packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

Quality Catering's Healthy Heroes are the perfect tie-in to the tasty, nutritious hot lunches for child care centers, preschools and child development centers in northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin.