The dietary behaviors of children and adolescents in the United States are a major public health concern. Children and adolescents are not consuming enough nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and many of these youth do not meet the recommended amounts of nutrients such as fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. The prevalence of childhood obesity is also a concern, with approximately 32 percent of youth, ages 2 to 19, overweight or obese.
School programs that integrate instruction on nutrition and physical activity, and promote changes in the school environment (e.g., access to fresh fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria), along with parental and community involvement are effective strategies to improve children’s and adolescents’ dietary behaviors. Furthermore, including garden-based activities at school helps improve nutrition knowledge and vegetable food preferences.
However, classroom-based nutrition interventions must support mandated state and national education standards in order to be readily adopted.
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