BACK-TO-SCHOOL: Pack a Healthy Lunch So Your Kids Don't Pack On the Pounds

Aug 14, 2007, 01:00 ET from National Fisheries Institute's Tuna Council

    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
     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
 health benefits.
     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
 separate containers.
     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 and for additional information.

SOURCE National Fisheries Institute's Tuna Council