Study shows how Oklahoma day cares can improve nutrition
Day care is where many young kids eat almost all their meals."Our children are served breakfast and lunch and two snacks," said April Smith with Kidz Biz in Oklahoma City.
But before they can eat, what they're served is being thoroughly examined.
"Obesity in children is at an all-time high right now so it makes me sad sometimes because parents just you know let it go," said Kidz Biz parent Ravenn Rudel. She makes sure her son Raylan gets a well-balanced diet both during after day care.
The obesity epidemic across the country shows a third of kids are overweight or obese. And Oklahoma ranks the 6th most obese state.
That's why new research out of OU Health Sciences is so important. Researches looked at menus from 83 day cares in Oklahoma. Overall, they gave day cares a B- with room to improve.
"The child care menus were providing adequate amounts of some nutrients but not enough of other nutrients," said Health Sciences Professor Dr. Susan B. Sisson.
Sisson found adequate amounts of protein, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A and calcium in the meals served at state child care centers. But day cares were not providing enough carbohydrates, fiber, iron, vitamin D and vitamin E.
Folks with Kidz Biz have worked with OU in the past. They say nutrition was always important, but they diversified their menu since meeting with the nutritionists. Results have been good.
"We get parents coming in saying 'hey you had my child eating peas today and so we tried it at home,'" Smith said.
Not sure how to get your child excited about eating well? Smith says to change the food's name and presentation.
"We did the "Despicable Me" smoothies so they had bananas and pineapples and different things and we added a tad bit of food coloring in it and they loved it!" she said.
Kids are also more likely to eat food they help prepare, said Smith.
"It helps them with their fine motor skills as well as their gross motor skills, math, being able to measure, cooperation with your team," she listed.
That way they have fond memories of the healthy foods and use what they learn when on their own later in life.
"You're healthier, you're happier. It goes kind of hand in hand," said Rudel.
Researchers are taking their findings on the road. They will travel to day cares across Oklahoma to help educate teachers with their findings.