It’s a staggering number nationwide.
The American Heart Association says one in every three children is either overweight or obese. For the past few years, Broome County has ranked at the bottom of the state in overall health and experts say ending this trend begins with our youth.
“We really want to make the healthiest Broome County that we can, and starting early means that kids can start those habits when they’re young, and keep them through the rest of their lives,” said American Heart Association Communications Director Kristy Smorol. “If you start a habit early, it’s easier to stick with it.”
In the Binghamton City School District, children are provided with two meals and a snack every day. For most kids, this may be the only food they eat all day.That’s why dietitians say it’s important they learn how to make good choices in the lunchroom.
“They’re starting to make decisions as early as elementary school, and it’s important to let them know that they have the choice and to kind of give them the power to feel confident about their decision,” said Cornell Dietetic Intern Karissa Stevens.
On Wednesday, second and third graders learned how certain fruits can affect different parts of their body.
“The more colors you eat, the more nutrients you get, which means that if you’re eating all green, we want you to eat green, but we also want you to add some purple and some red because each different color category has different nutrients in it,” said Smorol.
And when it comes to excelling academically, dietitians say food is fuel.
“Kids that are living healthy lives can actually focus better in school if they’re not hungry, if they’re not tired,” said Smorol. “These things can help their education as well so it’s really about being a whole student and being healthy for your entire life.”
Dietitians say even making small changes to your diet could have lasting effects on your overall health.