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Good eating habits should start early with our children


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Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 5/6/2007

As a dietitian, I am excited about the growing number of schools nationwide that are establishing gardens ["Kids who garden eat more veggies," April 29].

Giving children hands-on involvement in growing fruits and vegetables encourages them to eat more of these foods and builds enthusiasm for trying new types of produce.

Given America's childhood obesity and diabetes crisis, we need to do everything we can to help children choose more fruits, vegetables, and other vegetarian foods.

Because schools play an influential role in shaping what students eat, they can help children establish healthy eating habits at a young age.

School gardens are inexpensive, educational, and fun. Creating a bulletin board of healthy snack ideas or including low-fat, cholesterol-free recipes in the school newsletter are great ways to reach children and their families.

Studies have shown that vegetarian diets clearly help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. Every school should provide a variety of meatless entrees, non-dairy beverages such as soy milk, and easy access to fruits and vegetables daily in the cafeteria.

By offering children low-fat, vegetarian foods at a young age, we can set them on a course for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Dulcie Ward

Washington

The writer is staff dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.