Healthy Children - February 2013

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.



Encourage Kids to Eat More Fruits & Veggies

Eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet for both children and adults. Finding creative ways to encourage fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet can be fun for the entire family.

There are more fruits and vegetables available in fresh, frozen, canned, and dried forms than ever before. Taking the time to introduce a variety of fruits and vegetables to kids can help a lifetime of healthy habits.

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruits on the counter. Refrigerate cut up fruits and vegetables in small bags for easy snacks on the run.
  • Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal. Add grated or cut vegetables into entrees, side dishes, and soups. Top off cereal with fruits or add frozen fruits to smoothies.
  • Set a good example. Snack on fruit and order low-sodium, low-fat salads, soups, or vegetable sides when at restaurants.
  • Pack the refrigerator, freezer and cupboard with pre-cut, frozen and canned vegetables so that it is easier for you to prepare meals and snacks that include vegetables.
  • Challenge family members to reach their daily fruits and vegetables goal. Reward the winner with a prize of his or her choice.
  • Ask that fruits and vegetables be offered at school functions, after school programs, and in vending machines.
  • Let children choose which fruits and vegetables to serve and how to incorporate them into their favorite meals.
  • Make fruits and vegetables fun. Try dressing up sandwiches with faces and smiles made from fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep trying. For some foods, it may take multiple times before a child acquires a taste for it.
  • Encourage friends or relatives to offer vegetables and fruits to your children.
  • Kids are turned off to try new food if the smell, flavor, or color is not appealing to them. It may be more appealing to a child if the fruits or vegetables are served raw.
  • Try feeding different textures of fruits and vegetables to your child. Some children prefer smooth food, whereas others like lumpy, and some children like crispy foods, but others like soft.
  • Offer new fruits and vegetables in combinations with old favorites to show your child a variety of smells, textures, and colors. Various vegetables can be added to any whole grain pasta dish or pizza, and fruit is a great topping for low-fat or fat-free yogurt.



Every Day... Play Outside

Since children are naturally active, if you take them outside they will play. Find a safe place for them and keep an eye on them, or better yet, play with them.

Explore the different seasons. Stomp in puddles, splash through sprinklers, jump into piles of autumn leaves, or build a snow fort. In cold weather it will be easier if you keep everyone’s outdoor clothes organized. During summer it’s helpful to keep sunscreen, hats and water handy.

Try these ideas:

  • Put a plastic mat or piece of cardboard on the floor near the door for wet or snowy boots.
  • Put up some hooks for jackets and snow pants.
  • Give each child a box, bin or basket for their hats, scarves, heavy socks and mittens. (Your child can have fun decorating her box.)
  • Get a plastic water bottle for each member of the family and write their names on them.


Now you’re dressed and ready to go out to play, snow or shine!

Cold Weather Activities
Dress warmly and go outside!
Go dashing through the snow
Build a snow family
Make snow angels
Sled, snowshoe or ski around the yard
Catch snowflakes
Collect leaves, acorns or pinecones
Hunt for frozen animal tracks
Walk though the bare woods

Warm Weather Activities
Put on sunscreen and go outside!
Walk to the playground
Ride a tricycle or bike
Play ball
Build sandcastles
Make mudpies
Splash in a wading pool
Hike up a hill
Do cartwheels and somersaults in the yard



Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for about 95 percent of diabetes cases. There is an increase in the number of cases of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents. The rise may be due to obesity and decreased physical activity among children. The risk for type 2 diabetes increases with age.

What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder resulting from the body's inability to produce enough, or to properly use, insulin. It has previously been called non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Without enough insulin, the body cannot move blood sugar into the cells. It is a chronic disease with no known cure.

What is prediabetes?
In prediabetes, blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be defined as diabetes. However, many people with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, states the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Prediabetes also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. With modest weight loss and moderate physical activity, people with prediabetes can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

What causes type 2 diabetes?
The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, there is an inherited susceptibility which causes it to run in families. Although a person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, to bring on the disease.

Prevention or delay of onset of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes may be prevented or delayed by following a program to eliminate or reduce risk factors - particularly losing weight and increasing exercise. Information gathered by the Diabetes Prevention Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the American Diabetes Association, continues to study this possibility.

What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
The following are the most common symptoms for type 2 diabetes. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Frequent infections that are not easily healed
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger but loss of weight
  • Unusual thirst
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme weakness and fatigue
  • Irritability and mood changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High levels of sugar in the blood when tested
  • High levels of sugar in the urine when tested
  • Tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet


Some people who have type 2 diabetes exhibit no symptoms. One-third of all persons with diabetes do not know they have the disease.

The symptoms of type 2 diabetes may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include the following:

  • Age (incidence increases with age)
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Being a member of certain racial and ethnic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians
  • A low level HDL (high density lipoprotein, the "good" cholesterol)
  • A high triglyceride level


Treatment for type 2 diabetes
Specific treatment for type 2 diabetes will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the disease
  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the disease
  • Your opinion or preference


The goal of treatment is to keep blood-sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Emphasis is on control of blood sugar (glucose) by monitoring the levels, regular physical activity, meal planning, and routine health care. Treatment of diabetes is an ongoing process of management and education that includes not only the child with diabetes, but also family members.

Often type 2 diabetes can be controlled through losing weight, improved nutrition, and exercise. However, sometimes, these are not enough and either oral or injected medications and/or insulin must be used. Treatment may include:

  • Proper diet
  • Weight control
  • An appropriate exercise program
  • Proper hygiene
  • Insulin replacement therapy (under the direction of your child's physician)


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Warm Baked Apples with Dried Cherries, Raisins and Blueberries

Serves 6
6 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup dried cherries, blueberries, and raisins
½ cup light brown sugar
6 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons safflower or canola oil
1. Brush 6 cupcake molds with the oil to prevent sticking.
2. Use melon baller to scoop stem and core of each apple, poke a few holes into the top of the apple with a fork to prevent heat from splitting them, then place them into cupcake molds.
3. Place a half tablespoon of orange juice concentrate into the center of each apple.
4. Fill with dried fruits and sprinkle brown sugar over the tops.
5. Drizzle with honey and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes or until apple is soft. Serve warm.

Healthier Recipes from the White House to you.



What Providers Can Do Regarding Childhood Obesity

Take Your Own Attitudes and Prejudices Seriously

Remind yourself and parents that kids’ weight, eating, and activity practices are complex issues- and that solutions are going to come from multiple resources.

Clarify Your Role as a Provider

Provide information as you are able. Parents and caregivers roles are to provide nourishing food and activity opportunities. The child’s role is to choose from the food and opportunities presented based on body cues, experiences, and knowledge or what his/her body needs to be healthy.

Get the Facts About Treatment Approaches to Normalizing Weight

Find out what research tells us about treatment approaches and exercise as it all applies to children. There is not much hopeful in terms of applying dieting principles to children’s weight concerns. In fact dieting is an identified springboard in full blown eating disorders and other problems. In addition kids of dieting parents have greater adiposity than kids whose parents don’t diet. Must approach with a “do no harm” edict.

Seek Out Opportunities in Your Daycare to Introduce and Reinforce Impacting Messages

Speak positively of bodies in general. Incorporate messages into your conversations that reinforce diversity in size and shape in nature, including human beings. Provide nourishing snacks and meals and make the parents aware of them. Display posters and photos of kids of all shapes and sizes doing active things, as well as on good nutrition.

Provide Health-Focused Rather than Weight-Focused Care

Focus on what health supporting impact you can have on children and their family lives. Identify what the child and/or family is doing currently that promotes self-respect, health, and happiness. Promote family activities, family meals, nutrient-rich foods, and eating for energy and satisfaction.

Interact with Kids in Ways that Reinforce Healthy Attitudes and Behaviors

Get outside, walk, stretch…do activities where you are both moving. Encourage children to participate in the process of meal time by contributing their ideas and energy to meal planning, preparing, and cleaning up.