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August 30, 2010

Fuel Up to Play 60: Help Kids Make the Grade

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

My kids are back to school, and, as usual, I have mixed feelings about the start of another school year. I miss having them around, but truth be told, I am not so sure that I miss entertaining three girls every day!

Now that you're turning your attention to getting your child ready for school, you may be wondering how to help him do his best in the classroom. There's plenty that parents can do, at home, and at school, to foster academic achievement.

It doesn't matter what time of year, children should be encouraged to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, such as low-fat and fat-free  milk lean sources of protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, experts say children need at least one hour of physical activity every day. 

Easier said than done, even in this dietitian's household.  Truth is, once the school year starts, kids may slow down because they're busy with homework and other school-related activities, and they may reach for more low-nutrient snacks on the fly. (Speaking of snacks, spinach dip with whole grain crackers, and a banana pudding shake are healthy alternatives to snack chips and sweets.)

It's important for parents to keep sight of the fact that a growing body of evidence links excess body fat, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition to lower levels of academic achievement.  Since kids spend so much time in the school environment, a program like Fuel Up to Play 60 ( www.fueluptoplay60.com ) is just the thing to get them moving more and eating better when they're at home, and when they're at school.

Fuel Up to Play 60 is an in-school nutrition and physical activity program run by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture. It encourages healthy eating and a minimum of 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Kids take the lead in Fuel Up to Play 60. Working with adults, students think of ways to increase physical activity before, during, and after school, and how to motivate their peers to eat healthier foods. 

Fuel Up to Play 60 is a great way to get involved with your child's school, and for your child to be part of a worthy school-based project.  Visit the Fuel Up to Play 60 web site for information about how your child's school can get involved. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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