American Dietetic Association urges Congress to increase the role of nutrition education in schools

WASHINGTON, D.C. Schools should offer most American children a better chance to learn about nutrition and develop healthful eating habits for a lifetime, according to testimony presented to Congress Tuesday (March 4) by the American Dietetic Association.

Susan Borra, a registered dietitian and immediate ADA past president, testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee as it considers amendments to the federal Child Nutrition Act that authorizes school meal programs as well as Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and other nutrition programs.

"The fact that more than half of all children in the United States eat breakfast, lunch or a snack at school demonstrates the degree to which schools can support the development of life-long balanced nutritional and exercise habits," Borra said. "Much more than lunch is on the table in the school lunch program. Developing children's knowledge and building healthy eating behaviors must be considered and supported."

The number of overweight and obese children is at an all-time high in the United States and studies show overweight or obese children frequently become obese adults. With obesity a risk factor for a number of serious health conditions, successful prevention of obesity in childhood therefore could reduce the adult incidence of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

Borra urged Congress to adopt a three-pronged approach for addressing child health and nutrition issues: the presence of trained professionals in decision-making roles; setting nutrition standards with accountability; and nutrition education that is evaluated and complements the ability to select a healthful diet with foods that are served in the school nutrition programs. "Clearly children, parents and teachers need resources to deal with the issues of healthy weight," Borra said.

"The school setting is a logical focal point of what should be a comprehensive effort to help kids remain healthy for life by making s

Contact: Bridget McManamon
American Dietetic Association

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