By Caroline Steele, registered dietitian and director of clinical nutrition and lactation services at CHOC Children’s
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three children in the United States are obese. Obesity rates in children have quadrupled and rates in teens have tripled since the 1980s. In California, 38 percent of children are overweight or obese and in Orange County alone this translates to 830,000 children and teens.
Because of these trends, healthcare experts have looked for ways to help families with lifestyle and behavior changes, including nutrition choices, to improve health. To help improve trends in our own community, CHOC Children’s is pleased to launch a new formal food and nutrition philosophy.
CHOC Children’s embraces nutrition as a cornerstone of health, healing and well-being. We believe that food can be therapeutic and that real people need real food. Choosing from a plentiful variety of fresh, wholesome foods will strengthen a healthy lifestyle. Healthy eating can be tasty and flavorful with just a little creativity!
CHOC is more than a place to receive excellent care and more than a restaurant. We are a resource of health and nutrition information—not only for our patients, but for their families, our staff, visitors to our campus, and our community. We are committed to being a role model and setting an example of optimal nutrition at every opportunity within our organization.
We understand that embracing a food and nutrition philosophy is more than just changing the foods we serve. We support our philosophy by:
- Promoting food quality, balance, lifestyle changes and mindful eating rather than fad diets.
- Using portion sizes, product placement and presentation, pricing and education to promote better choices.
- Understanding individual unique needs and that an individual’s eating pattern, nutrient needs, and food group amounts will vary based on age, weight, height, activity level and medical needs.
On our Orange campus, we are increasing the range and availability of healthy food and drink options, while reducing the number and amount of unhealthy options in our cafeterias, vending machines, and on our patient menus. We will provide more freshly made items and reduce processed and pre-packaged foods for an emphasis on quality and taste as well as health. Our goal is to make it easier and tastier to make the healthy choice!
Our new farmers’ market will allow staff, families, and visitors the opportunity to take fresh produce and other items home to their families.
We are excited to embrace these changes and help those in our community find delicious ways to improve health by providing information and helpful hints as well as showing examples with the food we offer. Savor the flavor of healthy eating and join us on our journey to a fitter future!
- A registered dietitian at CHOC Children’s offers ideas for healthy drinks for kids this summer, please a breakdown of how much sugar is hiding in your favorite beverage.
- A registered dietitian at CHOC Children’s Hospital offers creative ideas to parents for healthy snacks for kids this summer.
- At home before a trip, set the stage by offering some of the foods you might experience on your upcoming travels.