Shape Up America! Newsletter
Shape Up America!
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 Shape Up America! Newsletter . Real Help for Real People 
December 2003 
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Greetings!

In this issue
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  • Shape Up America! Hosts Conference On Childhood Obesity
  • Conference Addresses What Infants and Toddlers Are Eating
  • Strategies for Preventing Childhood Obesity
  • Walker's Daily Logs
  • Walking for Fitness ( Now in Spanish)

  • Conference Addresses What Infants and Toddlers Are Eating
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    To address some of the causes of childhood obesity, the conference showcased new data from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), a survey commissioned by Gerber that examines the eating habits and nutrient intakes of more than 3,000 U.S. children ages 4 months to 24 months old. FITS found that many infants and toddlers show signs of the unhealthful diet adopted by much of the adult population. Some major findings include:

    **Soda is being served to infants as young as 7 months old **In any given day, one third of toddlers 19-24 months are not consuming a vegetable and nearly 20 percent are not consuming any fruit. **French fries are the most commonly consumed vegetable for toddlers aged 15-24 months **By 19-24 months, most toddlers consumed sweets, desserts or salty snacks at least once a day

    The conference examined the role of taste and smell in guiding early food preferences. Julie A. Mennella, Ph.D. reported that because the constantly changing flavor profile of human milk reflects the mother's diet, breast fed babies tend to be more accepting of a variety of foods compared to formula-fed infants. "Amniotic fluid and mother's milk reflect the culture into which the child is born," said Dr. Mennella. "The type of foods eaten by the mother, and hence the flavor principles of the culture, are experienced by the baby long before he or she tastes solid foods for the first time."

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    Strategies for Preventing Childhood Obesity
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    To identify factors that are predisposing young children to unhealthy weight and chronic disease later in life, researchers attending the conference focused on parenting practices that can be leveraged to prevent childhood obesity. Some of the messages for parents and caregivers are:

    **Breastfeed your baby for as long as possible. Research finds that in addition to promoting a vital bonding between mother and child and imparting important immunity to the infant, breastfeeding helps to introduce babies to a wide variety of flavors, which prepares the baby to accept and enjoy fruits and vegetables; **A division of responsibility is recommended: Parents are responsible for presenting children with healthful food choices. Children are responsible for how much of such foods they will eat. This division of responsibility begins in infancy by letting the baby's appetite determine how much to eat and when to stop; **Restaurant foods or fast foods are not appropriate for infants or toddlers **In toddlers, replace sweets, snacks, soda or fries with healthy alternatives such as fruits, vegetables and milk. **With toddlers, start use a petite plate with small servings and offer seconds only if the child requests; **Make physical activity a part of every day routine. Set aside time for unstructured play and encourage your child to move by actively playing with your child; **Limit TV viewing and, in particular, turn off the television during meals. **Whenever possible, eat meals together as a family **Go for a walk with your child as often as possible **The eating and activity of a parent speaks louder to your child than anything you say

    Eat For Good Health Activities Book, Grades 1-4 »

    Walker's Daily Logs
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    We have been asked time and again for a Walker's Daily Log to keep track of your 10,000 Step Program and so here they are!

    These logs are available with the Shape Up America! imprint or your organization's if ordered in bulk. We will have them available in small quanities shortly.

    Contact Us For Customized Gifts! »

    Walking for Fitness ( Now in Spanish)
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    Health benefits of walking Finding target heart rate How to start a walking program Stretching calves, quadriceps, and more Safety tips for walkers

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    Shape Up America! Hosts Conference On Childhood Obesity


    Charting epidemic levels of obesity in the United States and many parts of the world, leading scientists and public health experts meeting in Washington DC agreed that adult obesity has some roots in fetal development and what happens at the earliest stages of childhood

    Supported with funding from the Gerber Products Company, the international conference was organized and convened by Shape Up America! to discuss the prevention of childhood obesity. Over 200 researchers from the U.S., Canada and Europe reviewed the latest data on the risk factors for childhood obesity, agreeing that a number of factors during pregnancy and infancy predispose children to obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. Those factors include:

    **elevated maternal prepregnancy body weight, **smoking before and during pregnancy, **maternal gestational diabetes, and **either infant low birth weight or high birth weight

    Researchers attending the conference recognized the value of catch up growth in low birth weight infants (those weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth) but saw evidence that excessively rapid weight gain in those babies predisposes them to later obesity. Citing recent studies linking rapid growth in these infants with an increased risk for obesity and chronic diseases in adulthood, scientists speaking at the Shape Up America! conference recommended very careful monitoring of these high risk babies to achieve an appropriate rate of weight gain during infancy. Because of the many challenges in feeding these infants properly, parents should seek the guidance of a qualified health care professional.

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