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children-playingIn the last thirty years childhood obesity has more than doubled among U.S. children (ages 6–11) and quadrupled in adolescents (ages 12–19), putting American youth at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke as they grow older. Because September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, here are two new studies spotlighting the importance of promoting good nutrition and lifestyle habits—plus several links to smart and simple tips for raising healthy kids!

Little Couch Potatoes Grow Up to Be Big Couch Potatoes
Researchers at University College London recently wrapped up a decades-long study in which they found that children who spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV tend to become adults who spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV—a behavior known to contribute to obesity and obesity-related disease. After monitoring the viewing habits of more than 9,800 participants, they found that nearly 83 percent of 40-year-olds who watch more than three hours of TV daily had similar habits at age 10. This prompted experts to stress the importance of teaching kids about the benefits of physical activity for a healthy weight and overall wellness.

Learning to Like Certain Foods Starts Early
A new series of nutritional studies suggests childhood eating habits form during infancy, and parents should be aware that taste preferences for certain foods can take root even before little ones start walking. The combined results of more than 10 studies, published this month in the journal Pediatrics, show that eating patterns are set early in life—making it even more important for parents to promote healthy foods sooner rather than later. They recommend getting babies interested in fruit and vegetables by late infancy (between 10 and 12 months) and encourage parents to keep trying even when kids spit out certain foods, as repeated exposure often increases acceptance.

Parents and family members can check out our previous blogs for tips and advice on children’s health and nutrition:

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You can add brain health to your list of reasons to eat more fish. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine recently completed a long-term study on how diet and lifestyle factors affect brain health and found that eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week can promote healthy brain function later in life.

The research team gathered data from more than 260 people during the study, during which participants routinely underwent high-resolution brain MRI scans to measure brain function. Regular fish eaters showed a greater volume of grey matter (responsible for routing sensory and motor stimuli) in the brain areas involved in memory and learning.

But why only baked or broiled and not fried fish? “Baked or broiled fish contains higher levels of Omega-3s than fried fish because the fatty acids are destroyed in the high heat of frying,” said lead investigator Dr. Cyrus Raji. Fish is an excellent lean protein source and many studies have linked fish-derived Omega-3 fatty acids to optimal health. Here’s a simple and delicious recipe you can try today!

med-baked-fishSavory Mediterranean-Style Baked Fish
Serves 2

Ingredients:
Two 4-oz. white fish fillets (flounder or tilapia)
One 10-oz. bag fresh spinach
2 small plum tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 tbsp. chopped black olives
1 tbsp. capers
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°. Place fillets in a shallow glass baking dish; top with spinach, tomatoes, shallots, olives and capers. Drizzle orange juice over entire dish. Bake for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Sprinkle with pepper and serve hot.

Not a big fan of fish? Consider taking a high-concentration, purity-guaranteed fish oil supplement each day to reap the Omega-3 benefits!

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