Healthy Children - April 2018

ExceleRate Illinois in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on healthy choices. The Healthy Children, Healthy Families Project will communicate to parents, child care practitioners, and others who visit the website, the seriousness of obesity in young children and to link them to current research on the issue.

Helpful suggestions for meal planning, recipes and healthy physical activities are presented on this site for children and the health of the entire family.

New ideas are listed every month. Each month a new column on this issue of national concern is posted. It answers questions you have regarding children and healthy lifestyles -- be sure to check it out.

For more information contact the Illinois Department of Human Services at (217) 785-9336 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also contact your local Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency.

The consumer health information on childhood obesity provided by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on the site or by any links to other sites is for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. This web site generally links to other sites that are informational in nature and does not link to commercial sites that are primarily intended for the sale of products or services. Use of this site or any links to other sites does not replace medical consultations with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or a loved one. You should promptly seek professional care if you have any concern about the health of you or a loved one and you should always consult your physician before you or a loved one starts a fitness regimen.

Dental Health Starts Early 

Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth.

“Some people think baby teeth don’t matter because kids lose them,” says LaToya Wilson, DMD, a general dentist with St. Louis Children’s Hospital Healthy Kids Express mobile health van. “Taking care of baby teeth teaches kids healthy habits that keep permanent teeth healthy and cavity free.”

The First Year

For infants up to 1 year old, or before the first tooth appears, rub their gums daily with a wet cloth. Also, keep bottles out of the bedroom if you can. Milk or formula can linger on the gums and cause cavities in baby teeth. For children older than 6 months, Dr. Wilson says that it’s best for kids to go to bed without a bottle.

When baby teeth arrive, around age 1, lightly brush their teeth with a toothbrush and kids’ toothpaste. By that time, he should also have his first dentist visit.

Letting Kids Brush

By age 4, kids should start brushing their own teeth. Have them brush twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that has fluoride in it. Fluoride protects teeth from cavities. Floss your child’s teeth until age 6. Then, let her take over.

Most importantly, get your child excited about having healthy teeth. It even helps if you brush your own teeth while your child brushes his to be a good role model.

“Parents can support kids in a lifelong goal of dental health,” Dr. Wilson says. “If they are excited about it, their children will pick up on that.”

Call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center or at 314.454.KIDS (5437) and press “5” to have your information about dental health sent to you.

New Study Finds Childhood Obesity Epidemic Continues Overall, Increases Significantly Among Some Groups

New research shows the U.S child obesity epidemic is not easing, as some earlier research suggested. According to a study in the March 2018 Pediatrics, “Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in US Children, 1999-2016," rates of overweight and obesity have increased in all age groups among children ages 2-19.

The rates generally increased with age, with 41.5 percent of teens (A Teenagers Nutritional Needs) having obesity by 16-19 years of age. Researches used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data to calculate age and sex-specific body mass index, with updated obesity classifications, from height and weight measurements taken during physical exams. This approach revealed more nuanc ed trends, study authors said, including rates for severe obesity, more specific age subgroups, and added long-term content. Of particular concern authors said, were continued racial and ethnic disparities—especially at the most extreme weight categories. White and Asian children, for example, showed significantly lower rates of obesity than Hispanic and black children. Examining short-term trends as well as long-term, researchers also found a sharp increase in obesity since 2015-16 among children ages 2-5, especially boys. Girls 16-19 years old also had a notable jump in overweight rates, from 36% to 48%.

Study authors said that despite intense clinical and public health focus on obesity and weight-related behaviors in the past decade, results suggest these efforts have yet been able to counteract environmental forces that fuel excess weight gain in children, at least on a national scale. They call for more widely disseminated resources and additional research into the factors contributing to childhood obesity.

Additional Information:

Healthy Changes in the Child and Adult Care Food Program

Serve Tasty and Healthy Foods in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

Sample Meals for Children Ages 3-5

What is in a Breakfast?

  • Milk (6 fl. Oz. or ¾ cup)
  • Vegetables, Fruit, or Both ( ½ cup)
  • Grains ( ½ serving)

Example Breakfast: ½ serving of Whole Grain Mini Pancakes, ½ cup of sliced strawberries, and ¾ cup of 1%, 2%, or whole milk.

What is in a Lunch or Supper?

  • Milk ( 6 fl. Oz. or ¾ cup)
  • Meat/Meat Alternate (1 ½ oz.)
  • Vegetables ( ¼ cup)
  • Fruit ( ¼ cup)
  • Grains ( ½ serving)

Example Lunch or Supper: ½ Taco shell, 1 ½ oz. of Ground Beef, ¼ cup of lettuce, ¼ cup of fruit, and ¾ cup of 1%, 2%, or whole milk.

What is in a Snack?

Pick 2

  • Milk (4 fl. Oz. or ½ cup)
  • Meat/Meat Alternate (½ oz.)
  • Vegetables ( ½ cup)
  • Fruit ( ½ cup)
  • Grains ( ½ serving)

Example Snack: ½ cup of apple slices, ½ oz. cheddar cubes.


USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) works to combat hunger by brining nutritious and wholesome foods to tables for children in child care centers, homes, and afterschool programs, as well as adults in day care. More than 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snack each day through CACFP. As an added benefit, these meals and snacks often reflect regional and local food preferences.

During National CACFP Week (March 11-17), USDA joins National CACFP Sponsors Association and other partners in thanking state agency staff, CACFP sponsoring organizations, child care centers, adult day care sites and family child care homes form their important work.

Over the past year, USDA has held listening sessions with states and CACFP operators and taken feedback to better support providers through job training, both through USDA’S Team Nutrition initiative and a partnership with the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). The Institute has travelled the country providing 95 in-people CACFP Meal Pattern Training to nearly 4,000 CACFP operators.

Providers play an important role in helping parents and other caregivers by providing nutritious food for children and dependent adults during the workday. To further support program providers, the Team Nutrition initiative offers monthly CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursday’s webinars in both English and Spanish. These interactive sessions have been widely attended, averaging more than 1,000 participants each month.

States are also using Team Nutrition Training Grant funds to pilot innovative ways to reach CACFP operators, especially those that work out of rural or hard-to-reach areas.  For example, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has developed an online CACFP training with grant funds, which resulted in significant improvements in child care providers’ knowledge of meal pattern requirements and ways to plan healthful menus. In-person culinary workshops as well as online food preparation videos are further helping CACFP operators learn to prepare nutritious and delicious meals and snacks.

The state of Massachusetts is just one example, other states are in the process of collecting evaluation data on their training efforts so that effective training strategies can be implemented on a broader scale and replicated by others.

 Chicken Noodle Soup

This home-style chicken noodle soup makes a wonderful side dish. It tastes even better the next day if you have any leftovers.

Makes: 6 servings


  • 1 lb. chicken breasts (thawed, skin and bone removed)
  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tbsps. Egg mix
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Cut up chicken breasts and place in a large pot with enough water to cover. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Bring chicken and water to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and continue to cover and stir for about 20 minutes.
  3. Set aside ¼ cup (about 1 ladle full) of the broth in a large bowl to cool down.
  4. To make the noodles, combine egg mix and flour in a medium-size bowl. While mixing the egg and flour, slowly add the ¼ cup of broth until a dough is formed.
  5. Roll the dough on a clean, dry, floured surface. Add more flour as needed to keep it from sticking.
  6. Cut dough into ½ inch wide strips that are about 6 inches long.
  7. Gently put the strips into the pot with the chicken. Stir every 5 minutes.
  8. Cook until done (about 15-20 minutes over medium heat).
  9. Be careful! Pot may boil over if lid is fully closed.

Note: Tip for cooking chicken: The recommended sage minimum internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees F, as measure with a food thermometer.