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The present study was undertaken to learn more about parents’ (i) knowledge regarding healthy foods, factors associated with food purchasing and preparation, and current nutrition education resources, (ii) barriers to and promoters for establishing healthy eating habits for children and families, and (iii) interest in participating in nutrition interventions.
Focus group interviews were conducted with parents of low-income children from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
LAUSD Title 1 elementary schools where 50 % or more of students are eligible for free/reduced-price meals.
The most common barriers to eating healthy foods were cost, difficulty in getting children to eat healthier foods and easy access to fast food. Parents had a basic knowledge about what foods are healthy and received most of their nutrition education through the media. Parents expressed a desire for nutrition classes and almost all of them said they would attend a nutrition programme at their child's school. Topic areas of interest included what to purchase, how to cook healthier foods, how to encourage their children to eat healthier and how to read food labels. Parents also requested classes that engage the whole family, especially fathers.
Parents in our study were interested in participating in nutrition education programmes. The information from these focus groups was used to design a parent nutrition education programme especially designed to respond to the needs of the LAUSD parents, the majority of whom are low-income and Hispanic/Latino.
To measure change in fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption among elementary-school children after the introduction of a salad bar programme as a lunch menu option in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) reimbursable lunch programme in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
A cross-sectional sample of children was interviewed before and after a salad bar intervention (1998 and 2000, respectively) utilising a 24-hour food recall questionnaire. Frequencies of F&V consumption were calculated.
The evaluation took place in three LAUSD elementary schools participating in the salad bar programme and the USDA reimbursable lunch programme.
Three hundred and thirty-seven children in 2nd–5th grade (7–11 years old).
After the salad bar was introduced, there was a significant increase in frequency (2.97 to 4.09, P < 0.001) of F&V consumed among the children studied. The increase in frequency of F&V consumed was almost all due to an increase during lunch (84%). Mean energy, cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat intakes were significantly lower in the children after the salad bar was introduced in the schools compared with the intakes in the children before the salad bar was introduced.
A salad bar as a lunch menu option in the USDA reimbursable lunch programme can significantly increase the frequency of F&V consumption by elementary-school children living in low-income households.
This study was undertaken to establish the prevalence and severity of nutritional problems among low-income children of elementary school age in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in order to collect baseline data to inform policy-makers.
Design and methods
A cross-sectional survey of children in 14 elementary schools was conducted from January to June, 1998. Nine hundred and nineteen children were measured and interviewed. The planning, design and data analysis were carried out in collaboration with key LAUSD policy-makers.
More than 35% of the sample was classified as being at risk for overweight or overweight according to body mass index.
There is a high prevalence of children who are at risk for overweight or who are overweight in Los Angeles. This finding has triggered the development of multiple school-based intervention programmes.
Wendelin M. Slusser, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics UCLA School of Medicine; Director, Breastfeeding Resource Program UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities,
Linda Lange, Research Coordinator Child and Family Health Program; Associate Director UCLA Breastfeeding Resource Program, UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities
Breastfeeding provides an important indication of how a family is organized and functions and it determines the initial nutrition and feeding of an infant child. Although breastfeeding is an age-old and essential behavior for species survival, the practice has declined over this century because of the availability of cow's milk formula. Today, rather than being an automatic behavior for child survival, breastfeeding is a choice that depends on social, family, and health system factors.
We know that more families are making the decision to breastfeed. That choice–one of the first parenting decisions reached by new parents–is a product of a series of complex decisions and adaptations. It is influenced not only by desire and inclination but also by other family, social, and work-place issues. Success is not assured for all families. Indeed, some families are more successful than others in providing this nutritional and nurturing resource to their children.
The Commonwealth Survey provides a unique and important source of independent, nonproprietary data about breastfeeding and its determinants in the United States today, including information about the decision to breastfeed and some of the challenges families face. Much of the available data on breastfeeding in the United States comes from surveys conducted by Ross Laboratories, manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes. These data are used by the Federal government in Department of Health and Human Services annual reports (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1998) and by authors who publish in professional and research journals (Ryan 1997).
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