WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With America's obesity
epidemic increasingly impacting our youth, a healthy, nutritious lunch is
perhaps the most important item you can pack for your child on the first
day of school and throughout the school year. The beginning of the school
year presents the perfect opportunity for parents to teach their kids good
eating habits -- beginning on day one.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show
that the percentage of children who are overweight or obese tripled between
1980 and 2000 and type 2 diabetes is at an unprecedented high among this
group. According to Daniel Hale, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief,
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes at University of Texas
Health Science Center at San Antonio, "Ten years ago we saw very few cases
related to diabetes and obesity but today 75 percent of the referrals we
see in our clinic are related to both in children. Unfortunately, it is not
uncommon for us to see 12- and 13-year-old patients who weigh 300 pounds."
An April 2007 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National
Academy of Sciences states unequivocally that the school environment plays
a vital role in shaping children's life-long health and dietary patterns.
Parents can help their kids stay fit and healthy by providing well-balanced
lunches that are low in saturated and trans fats, high in lean protein and
rich in vitamins and minerals.
"By packing a lunch that includes lean proteins like canned tuna, along
with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy, parents ensure
that their children get the healthy foods they need to stay mentally and
physically fit," said Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD, co-author of The Moms'
Guide to Meal Makeovers and co-founder of MealMakeoverTV.com.
A Tidal Wave of Science Supports Fish
In October 2006, the Institute of Medicine released a report that said
consuming at least two seafood meals per week is safe and beneficial for
American families. A growing body of evidence, including studies published
in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, and The
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, proves that the lean protein and
omega-3 fatty acids in fish, including canned tuna, are essential for
building a strong body and mind. Omega-3s are proven to increase mental
acuity and decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes, obesity, asthma
and inflammatory disorders in children of all ages.
The FDA has repeatedly stated that tuna is a beneficial food for
families. In addition, the American Heart Association recommends that
children eat at least two servings of fish each week to reap its numerous
Packing A Lunch Kids Will Love
To make sure your children bring fun and nutritious meals with them to
school, Bissex recommends these easy-to-follow tips:
1. Keep food cold and safe by packing an ice pack in an insulated lunch
2. Pack your child's favorite cut-up fresh fruit and include a toothpick
or place fruit on a skewer to make eating it more fun.
3. Include a small container of low fat ranch dressing to make veggies,
like baby carrots and red pepper strips, more appealing.
4. Offer a low fat cheese stick or yogurt for bone-building calcium.
5. Include a variety of lean protein sources such as tuna, turkey, and
6. Pack a healthy beverage of 100 percent fruit juice, water, or low fat
Lunch Box-Ready Recipes
"The biggest barrier to eating fish, including canned tuna, is ideas
for quick preparation," Bissex said. "These updates on tasty tuna classics
are an easy and delicious way for parents to guarantee that their children
are getting the nutrition they need to keep them at the head of the class.
And if you're short on time, pouched tuna requires no draining and
flavored, single serve tuna by the can eliminates the preparation and the
If at first you don't succeed in introducing your children to new
foods, try, try again -- a child may try something a dozen or more times
before they will eat it regularly.
Classic Tuna Sandwich
Makes 4 servings
6 oz. chunk light tuna
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 c. celery, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped black olives or sweet pickle relish
2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
8 slices bread
Curly-leaf lettuce leaves
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except bread; mix well. Chill
several hours. Line 4 slices of bread with lettuce, top each with 1/4 tuna
mixture, and top with the remaining bread. Prep time allows for cooking the
egg. Reduce prep time to 10 minutes if egg has been previously cooked
Scoop-It-Up Tuna Salad
Makes 2 Servings
One 6-ounce can solid white or light tuna in water, drained and flaked
1 small carrot, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
3 tbsp. light canola mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Scoopers: Baked tortilla chips, cucumber wheels, mini whole wheat
pitas, whole grain crackers
Combine the tuna, carrot, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste in a
medium bowl and mix well. To pack for a school lunch, place the tuna salad
in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Pack "scoopers" in
The National Fisheries Institute's (NFI) Tuna Council, previously known
as the U.S. Tuna Foundation, represents the major canned and pouched tuna
brands in the United States. The Tuna Council focuses on a diverse range of
consumer and sustainability issues including product safety and tuna
conservation and management. For over 100 years, the tuna industry has
provided American families with an affordable and nutritious source of tuna
products. Visit http://www.TunaFoundation.org and
http://www.AboutSeafood.com for additional information.
SOURCE National Fisheries Institute's Tuna Council