Water for kids’ health

Health Services Authority community
dietician and nutritionist Bethany Smith prepared new food provisions that were
introduced to the Cayman Islands public schools for the 2010-11 school year.

The measure was introduced by
Cayman Islands HSA to teach young people how to adopt and maintain a healthy,
active lifestyle.

This year’s school menus include
balanced meals containing good sources of protein and starch, accompanied by
lots of vegetables and fruits, and healthier drinks.

 

Water

The fifth standard is one that
ensures that quality drinking water is readily accessible to all students, and
free.

Children should be encouraged to
drink water throughout the day, especially in the hotter months, to keep
well-hydrated.  They should also be able
to carry refillable water bottles to help them drink more water.

Not only is adequate water
necessary for good health, but drinking more of it will displace other beverages
that may have little nutritional value, such as sugar-sweetened drinks; water
has zero calories.

 

Other healthy beverages

The sixth standard outlines other
healthy beverage options for children. The goal is to remove drinks from school
that have no nutritional value, may contribute to excessive sugar and calorie
consumption and may cause tooth decay.

This standard encourages children
to drink beverages, such as low-fat milk and 100 per cent fruit and/or
vegetable juice, which address calcium requirements and provide Vitamins C and
A.

The school beverage guidelines
developed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation have been adopted for
local schools with a view toward these goals.

Founded in 2005 by the American
Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, the alliance works to
address one of the leading public health threats — childhood obesity.

The guidelines were designed using
current research, such as the American Heart Association’s Dietary Guidelines
for Healthy Children and 2006 Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations in order to balance
children’s nutritional requirements with the need to keep calories in check.

Two of the main objectives of these
guidelines are to provide lower calories and more nutritious beverage options
for schoolchildren and to teach students about appropriate portion sizes.

Therefore, in primary schools, only
water, 100 per cent juices (up to eight ounces), and low-fat milk (up to eight
ounces) are provided to ensure the best nutritional quality of beverages
served.

In secondary schools, water, 100
per cent juice (up to 12 ounces), and low-fat milk (up to 12 ounces) are
provided.

Low-calorie beverages (10 calories
per eight ounces) and other beverages no more than 66 calories per eight ounces
(up to a 12-ounce serving) are permitted in secondary schools only.

“The school beverage guidelines of
the Alliance for the Healthier Generation seems to be a good compromise on
still offering a variety of beverage choices, particularly in the secondary
schools, and yet ensuring healthier choices overall,” Ms Smith said.  “The incorporation of  portion size awareness and control is also an
important part of nutrition education and behaviour modification.”

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