Healthy Children - October 2012

INCCRRA in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is providing information on childhood obesity through its website. The intent is to communicate to child care practitioners, parents 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 not just for overweight children but 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 heavy 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.



Five Ways to Provide Your Child with Active Fun Outdoors

  1. Chase Me, Chase Me. Playfully chase your child safely throughout the yard or playground. Go uphill and downhill, zig and zag, fast and slow, forward and backward.
  2. Bubble Chase. Let your child blow bubbles. Have fun chasing, popping or stomping them.
  3. Hula Hoop Fun. Roll the hoop and chase after it. Lay the hoop on the ground, and hop in and out.
  4. Square Hop. With chalk or masking tape make several squares. Have your child hop to and from each square.
  5. Tight Rope. Draw a line with chalk or masking tape, and have your child walk on the line. To make it more challenging, you can add twists and turns or have your child hop.


Safety Alert: Always Stay with Your Child

Children don’t have life experiences to foresee danger. They may not have the body skills or strength to move away from trouble. When children play, they may not notice that they’re cold, wet, overheated or in possible danger. When you supervise, you stay active and have the fun of playing with your child.


Reprinted from: CACFP, Child and Adult Care Food Program, New York State Department of Health.
Adapted from Nibbles for Health and Fit WIC Activity Book.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-342-3009. This material was funded by USDA’s SNAP. FNS/USDA reserves a royalty-free non-exclusive license to reproduce, publish, use or authorize others to use all videos or literature including copyrighted items resulting from this project. In accordance with Federal law and USDA policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Festive Fit Tips

What are you being this Halloween?

How about healthy?!
A few simple tweaks to your trick-or-treating routine can help you keep all the frightful fun of Halloween while avoiding the scary consequences of candy overload. As you and your family try on different costumes this season, try out some of PHA’s Halloween tips:

  1. Go the distance if you dare. Map out a trick-or-treat route for your kids to help them explore the neighborhood while getting in some serious activity.
  2. Carve nutrients out of a Jack-o-Lantern. In addition to being wickedly wonderful Halloween décor, pumpkins are incredibly healthy, filled with vitamins and minerals like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and potassium.
  3. Make the magic last. Rather than be haunted by the stomachache – and guilt – that inevitably follow Halloween candy binges, encourage your kids to limit their treats to a few of their favorites on the big day. Before Halloween hits, decorate some old shoeboxes with your kids where they can store their candy and then keep the leftovers out of sight and out of reach. Allow them to enjoy small amounts every day – perhaps a piece in their lunch or after dinner – until the supply runs out.


Dress Up Your Recipe Collection

As decorations for your front porch, pumpkins are all about what they look like on the outside. But just like the rest of us, it’s really what’s on the inside that counts.

Pump up the nutrients by turning those leftovers from your kids’ Jack-o-Lantern carving sessions into foods for every meal on Halloween.


Start off the day by flipping out with Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes.


Warm up those goosebumps with Pumpkin and Bean Soup.


Pair whatever comes out of the witch’s brew with a slice of Pumpkin Bread.


Go stir crazy by sticking a spoon in some Pumpkin Pudding.

Reprinted from: Partnership for a Healthier America.



Help Prevent Type II Diabetes

Prediabetes and type II diabetes are on the rise among America’s youth. Both conditions are linked to obesity and being overweight. If not managed, diabetes can cause vision problems, heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney problems.

Some kids are more likely to get diabetes. Certain ethnic groups and families are prone to develop this disease. However, fast food and lack of exercise have increased the problem for everyone.

What can we do to reduce the risk of diabetes? Exercise or diet alone is not enough. Kids must eat healthy food and exercise daily. But doctors say children need their parents’ help.

Experts advise parents to focus on family health rather than a program for an obese child. Families can develop a healthy lifestyle-together.

  • Promote exercise by being active together. Take a walk. Bike. Play the active Wii games or an outside game of basketball-HORSE! Each season offers a chance for families to “play together.”
  • Help each of your kids find an exercise they really like. One child may like bowling. Another may love to play soccer. These exercises are in addition to the family exercise. Work up to 60 minutes of daily exercise.
  • Talk about healthy snacks and calories. An extra 100 calories a day leads to a 10 pound weight gain in one year.
  • Think before you eat. Eat what you need. Make healthy choices. Do not diet.
  • Offer small servings of dessert at the end of a meal, but not every day.
  • Drink water before every meal. Avoid high calorie drinks that fail to provide nutrition.
  • Choose only healthy foods during shopping trips. Limit your child’s funds that can buy fast food and other junk.


Help your child get and stay in control with his food and exercise choices. Set an example. Correct bad health habits, one at a time.

Cutting calories is easier with one choice at a time. Teach your child how to read food labels. Start with calories. Let him find a phone app for calorie lists. He can decide how to cut out 100-200 calories a day.

  • 1 ice cream sandwich=180 calories
  • 1 soda or fruit drink=150 calories
  • 1 bag of chips=150-200 calories
  • 1 large fry=500 calories
  • 1 small fry=230 calories


Reprinted from



Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Good nutrition, physical activity, and a healthy body weight are essential parts of a person’s overall health and well-being. Together, these can help decrease a person’s risk of developing serious health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A healthful diet, regular physical activity, and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight also are paramount to managing health conditions so they do not worsen over time.

Most Americans, however, do not eat a healthful diet and are not physically active at levels needed to maintain proper health. Fewer than 1 in 3 adults and an even lower proportion of adolescents eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day.1 Compounding this is the fact that a majority of adults (81.6%) and adolescents (81.8%) do not get the recommended amount of physical activity.2

As a result of these behaviors, the Nation has experienced a dramatic increase in obesity. Today, approximately 1 in 3 adults (34.0%) and 1 in 6 children and adolescents (16.2%) are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, which are among the leading causes of death. In addition to grave health consequences, overweight and obesity significantly increase medical costs and pose a staggering burden on the U.S. medical care delivery system.

Ensuring that all Americans eat a healthful diet, participate in regular physical activity, and achieve and maintain a healthy body weight is critical to improving the health of Americans at every age.

The Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Leading Health Indicators are:


Health Impact of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

The health impact of eating a healthful diet and being physically active cannot be understated. Together, a healthful diet and regular physical activity can help people:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer
  • Strengthen muscles, bones, and joints
  • Improve mood and energy level
  • Chief among the benefits of a healthful diet and physical activity is a reduction in the risk of obesity. Obesity is a major risk factor for several of today’s most serious health conditions and chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and osteoarthritis. Obesity also has been linked to many forms of cancer.


1: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables. Atlanta, GA: 2009. Available from
2: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Washington, DC: 2008. Available from
Reprinted from:



Parent Pages: Awesome Appetites

Today at child care your child learned that it is important to listen to their body and eat when hungry and stop eating when full. Let them learn by serving themselves. Teach them to take small amounts at first. Tell them they can get more if they’re still hungry. Eat together. Talk together. Make mealtimes a family time.

8 Ways to Encourage Good Eating Habits

  1. Plan a quiet activity for you child before mealtime such as drawing a picture.
  2. Teach your child to help you cook. Helping makes your child feel good.
  3. Offer your child healthy foods for meals and snacks.
  4. Let your child decide what to eat.
  5. Serve foods in new ways so your child will want to try them.
  6. Make meal times happy times.
  7. Let your child serve their own plate. They are better at taking the right amount of food.
  8. Let your child decide how much to eat.


Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

Yields 8 potato halves
Serves 8 adults

4 baking potatoes
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons low-fat (1% or less) milk
2 tablespoons minced onion (optional)
4 ounces shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika.
1. Scrub potatoes and remove any blemishes.
2. *Bake potatoes in oven preheated to 400 degrees until tender (about 30 to 40 minutes)
3. Slice each potato in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon, leaving 1/4-inch thick shells.
4. Blend cheese, milk, and onion with spoon. Add potato pulp and mix until light and fluffy.
5. Fill potato halves with mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and paprika.
6. Return to oven to reheat for 10 minutes.
7. Enjoy!
*Microwave Method
Pierce potatoes with a fork and place in microwave
Cover potatoes with waxed paper and heat on high until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Have your child help you do the bold steps

Adapted from Recipes and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Meals.
Reprinted from: CACFP, Child and Adult Care Food Program, New York State Department of Health.



Ready... Set... Go Play! With the Fit Wic Activity

Children learn through movement. Did you know that you are your child’s most important teacher? The skills you help your child learn through active play are skills she can use all of her life.

Play Every Day

Your toddler or preschooler needs 60 minutes or more each day of active free playtime. Going outside every day is one of the best ways to accomplish this. If you can’t be outside, active play inside is the next best thing.

Build Your Skills

Your toddler needs at least 30 minutes a day of planned physical activity. Your preschooler needs at least 60 minutes. Help your child practice skills like jumping, tumbling, balancing and catching every day.

Explore Your Community

Getting to know his neighborhood will help your child feel safe and confident. Instead of watching TV on Saturday mornings, make a play-date at the park or take the family to visit the library, a nearby farm or recreation path.

Infants (0-12 months old)

From birth, give your baby safe opportunities to move and explore. Babies love “floor time” where they can reach, roll and crawl. Try not to keep her in her infant seat, crib, or playpen for too long at one time.

Games to play together - peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake

Toddlers (1-3 years old)

Toddlers are learning to control their own bodies and develop skills like running and jumping. Active play helps your toddler tap into his creativity and imagination too.

Games to play together - follow the leader, marching band, ring around the rosy, dancing to music

Preschoolers (3-5 years old)

Preschoolers are developing confidence in movement skills that will prepare them for more advanced physical activities like school sports.

Games to play together - hide and seek, kickball, freeze, hopscotch, catch



Smart Snacking

Audience: Adults

Healthy Low-Cost Snack Ideas

Preparation Time
5 min
Activity Time
15 min
Easel pad markers
Preparation Prior to Class
1. Assemble the easel and place a pad on the easel.
2. Determine whether a brainstorm or facilitated group discussion will be the most effective teaching strategy.
1. Warmly welcome participants, creating a comfortable environment where they feel valued and safe being open and honest.
2. Begin by explaining that most young children need to have four to six mini-meals per day.
3. Review smart snacking tips and give parents basic information on what to consider when determining whether a snack is healthy (nutrient dense vs. empty calorie).
4. Introduce the purpose of this activity, which is to get ideas for nutritious low-cost snacks that other parents have discovered their preschool children enjoy.
5. Start with an icebreaker: What is your favorite snack?
6. Record participant responses to the icebreaker on the easel pad.
7. Discuss results: Is there a snack that is a favorite of many? Is there a snack that is a favorite of only one? Is there a wide variety of snacks represented?
8. If you are leading a brainstorm, review brainstorming rules: Any idea is fine – no comments on the ideas of others. It is okay to build on someone else’s idea. Yell your ideas out. We will discuss the ideas later. If you are not leading a brainstorm, go to step 11.
9. Move into the brainstorming questions: What is your preschool child’s favorite fruit? What unusual fruit does your child enjoy? How did your child start eating that fruit? What have you done to get your child to try a new fruit?
10. Record participant responses to brainstorming questions on the easel pad.
11. If you are facilitating a group discussion instead of a brainstorm or need to move the brainstorm along, share each suggestion prompt below:
  • Fruits: fresh (with or without low-fat yogurt dip), frozen or canned.
  • Frozen fruit juice on a popsicle stick.
  • Raw vegetables: plain or with low-fat dip/dressing.
  • Low-fat dairy: yogurt, cheese cut in shapes, cottage cheese, and milk.
  • Whole-grains: bread, pita bread, breadsticks, cereal, crackers, and muffins.
  • Combinations of the above items.

Ideas for more substantial snacks that require some preparation:
Whole-grains with protein:
  • Toasted English muffin with peanut butter.
  • Bread or bagel with peanut butter.
  • 1/2 sandwich made with whole-grain bread or pita bread and peanut butter, low-fat cheese, egg salad or tuna salad.
  • Whole-wheat muffin or pita bread pizza.
  • Whole-grain tortilla with melted low-fat cheese.
  • Crackers with low-fat cheese or peanut butter.
  • Tortilla with low-fat refried beans.

Low-fat dairy and fruit:
  • Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit.
  • Low-fat yogurt and fruit.
  • Smoothie made with low-fat milk, yogurt and fruit.
  • Diced low-fat cheese and fruit kabobs.

Low-fat dairy and vegetable:
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with raw veggie sticks.
  • Low-fat cheese shapes with raw veggie sticks.
  • Baked potato with melted low-fat cheese.

Snacks that can be pre-portioned into small plastic bags for you to carry when traveling:
  • Whole-grain crackers.
  • Breadsticks.
  • Pretzels.
  • Cereal that can be eaten as a finger food.
  • Peanut butter sandwich made on crackers, bread or pita bread.
12. Use open-ended questions that will enable your participants to share how they have tried some of these snack ideas in the past or how they might try them in the future.
13. Do not call on participants, but allow an adequate amount of time for them to volunteer answers.
14. Affirm all responses.
15. Review and expand upon the information shared in the brainstorm or group discussion in a way that will summarize and motivate.
16. Ask the parents to name new nutritious low-cost snacks they will offer their children this week.
17. Help them feel good about themselves, and remind them that they are powerful as each small action they take can make a positive difference in the lives of their children.
Additional Discussion During the Activity
Discuss the Food Stamp Program:
  • Benefits of participation.
  • How to find out if they are eligible for this benefit and receive assistance completing the application.
  • Contact information for the local Nutrition Outreach and Education Program (NOEP) agency.

Reprinted from: CACFP, Child and Adult Care Food Program, New York State Department of Health.