"Crunch" time: Disaster for kids?

It used to be the hour between feeding and bed was the "witching" hour for babies. But a new study has found that it can be just as harmful for kids and teens, only, with them, it starts earlier in the day.

According to a story by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public School, which ran the study, 60% of parents said their kids ate or drank something unhealthy that could lead to weight gain in the period between getting home from school and sleep. Another trend that could result in weight gain? Only one-half of the families surveyed said they ate dinner together six or seven nights out of the week.

And it's not just eating that gets out of hand, but the lack of exercise most kids are getting these days after school and on weekends, Richard Knox and Patti Neighmond write.  Added together, they add up to a mountain of calories each year that may lead to heart disease, stroke, even cancer in your children's later years. Overall, it's shaping our kids' health for the long run.

Even more alarming, according to a story at healthday.com, only 15% of parents think their kids are overweight, when the reality is that more than twice that are.

If we needed any more reason to eat healthy, Gina Kolata reported today that a major new study has found that a Mediterranean diet (grains, beans, nuts, olive oil, fish, chicken, even chocolate) lowered people's risk of heart attack or stroke by 30%. 

So, what to do? If you're working when the kids get home from school, try to have only healthy snacks -- fruit, whole grain crackers, unsweetened soft drinks -- in the house and available. An occasional Frito or Dorito snack won't hurt anyone but try to keep it to one day a week, or less.

And if you're not home to supervise, try making the rule no computer until homework, and if there is a grown-up at home, a stroll around the block. Try having dinner together a couple of nights a week.  And don't, don't, don't do what my son and I do -- watch TV while you eat!






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