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Kids and Healthy Eating Can Go Together
Date:12/27/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The notion that something is "easier said than done" could have been conceived for the task of getting kids to eat healthy foods.

But health experts warn that the consequences can be dire if kids don't learn to love fresh spinach, for instance, and instead stick with a diet stacked with processed foods.

More than 23 million American children are overweight or obese, according to government estimates, and many more children are at risk. Overweight kids face serious health problems that were unheard of in childhood just a generation ago, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke before they're adults.

The sooner that children start eating right, the better, according to Dr. Pooja Tandon, a pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital. "Healthy behaviors start from a very young age," she noted.

So what's a parent to do? Numerous public and private initiatives, from the local level to the federal government, have been sprouting up to give parents a hand in nurturing healthy eating.

Many experts believe that if children are more connected with their food -- whether by growing it or having a hand in meal preparation -- they'll be more likely to choose healthy fare.

One of the biggest movements in teaching healthy eating to children has focused on getting young people involved in growing their own food. First Lady Michelle Obama has invited kids to help plant the White House kitchen garden, the U.S. Agriculture Department has a "People's Garden" program designed to help communities establish local gardens and the American Heart Association's "Teaching Garden" program has helped establish gardens in elementary schoolyards across the country as part of its efforts to fight childhood obesity.

Efforts to pique children's interest in healthier foods and increase their access to them have ext
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