Health advocates recommend teaching children benefits of healthy food, even raw, to adapt to school-meal guidelines

Health advocates say that teaching people, especially children, about nutrition and the value of new federal guidelines for school meals can help improve Kentucky’s health, Jacqueline Pitts reports for “Pure Politics” on cn|2, a news service of TimeWarner Cable.

Some schools have thrown away food because the students do not like the new, healthier meals and don’t eat them. “The problem is the kids are saying they don’t want this. You are trying to force them to eat things they don’t want, and they go elsewhere,” U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, said last month at a subcommittee meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, which he chairs and which approved a one-year waiver from the rules for schools losing money on meals.

Susan Zepeda

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President Susan Zepeda told Pitts that more education about nutrition needs is needed so students and parents will understand why healthier meals are so important. “If we saw kids throwing out the toothbrushes after we taught them how to brush and floss, we wouldn’t stop teaching them how to brush and floss in schools,” Zepeda said. “Sometimes as grownups and parents we have to nudge the children we are responsible for in a healthier direction.”

Zepeda said that when she was young, she thought all vegetables were soft and mushy and didn’t taste good because her mother used a pressure cooker, but when she started picking corn, tomatoes and peas, she found that raw vegetables tasted delicious. She said young Kentuckians should be taught to appreciate the “natural wonderful tastes of the foods we grow right here in Kentucky.”

Rep. Leslie Combs

State Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, who recently had a heart attack, told Pitts she is looking for ways to deal with the state’s health issues and believes access to fast food and lack of physical activity play a significant role, especially in Eastern Kentucky, where several health issues connect.

“I think we need to work a lot on our role and in our capacity with our region to say ‘we got to get this obesity rate down,” Combs said. “That is huge because that ties itself to the high rate of diabetes that we’ve got. We still have a lot of smokers in our region, and this is a direct correlation between the health issues we’ve got, and the obesity brings itself into the heart issues.” (Read more)

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