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Test Your Food and Fitness Facts


Aaron Meshon

The more you know about nutrition and health, the less likely your children are to be overweight, according to a study of more than 1,000 parents of children 6 to 17. For instance, findings from the United States Department of Agriculture research showed that parents who weren't aware of how many servings of fruit kids should eat every day were about 50% more likely to have an overweight child than those who correctly answered "two to four servings." So take the quiz below to see if you have all the info you need to set smart diet and fitness strategies for your family. If you need to learn more, we'll tell you where you can get a crash course.

1. How many servings of vegetables does a 3-year-old child need to eat daily?
a. 2
b. 3
c. 4
d. 5

2. Kids are most likely to be deficient in iron. What are the best sources of this nutrient?
a. lean beef, pork, and poultry
b. bread, cereal, and beans
c. milk, yogurt, and cheese
d. fruits and vegetables

3. A new study found that a girl's physical activity is most likely to be influenced by which of the family members listed below?
a. mother
b. father
c. sister
d. brother

4. Which of the cooking methods below preserves the most heart-healthy carotene in red, orange, and green vegetables?
a. lightly steamed
b. well done
c. moderately cooked
d. uncooked

5. Children are less active today than ever. According to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, a nonprofit organization in Reston, VA, what percentage of American schoolchildren get enough exercise daily?
a. 25%
b. 33%
c. 50%
d. 66%

6. Milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified orange juice, and fortified soy milk are your child's best calcium sources at about 300 milligrams per serving. But which of the following foods will also provide your child with a little extra calcium?
a. potatoes and pasta
b. peaches and cantaloupe
c. tortillas and beans
d. eggs and toast

7. If kids watch TV while they eat, they are more likely to do which of the following?
a. feast on more pizza, munch on more salty snacks, and down more soda
b. consume twice as much caffeine
c. eat fewer fruits and vegetables
d. all of the above

8. Besides 30 to 60 minutes of accumulated physical activity most days of the week, how many minutes of vigorous exercise does a 5- to 12-year-old need daily?
a. 5 to 10
b. 10 to 15
c. 20 to 25
d. 30 to 35

1. b. All kids need at least three servings of veggies daily, but the portion size is smaller than you think. Figure on one tablespoon for every year of life for kids 1 to 6, 1/2 cup total thereafter.

2. a. Animal proteins contain "heme" iron, which is absorbed better than iron from plant foods. Dairy products don't have any iron.

3. b. Dads who encourage exercise and who provide logistical support such as a ride to practice are more apt to have active daughters. In the study, a mom's activity level made no difference.

4. a. Sturdy fibers and proteins lock up the carotenes in vegetables. Light cooking sets them free, while overcooking destroys them. If your kids like raw veggies, serve them with a little salad dressing (but not fat-free), which will improve the absorption of carotenes.

5. a. Kids are less active than ever, in part because schools are cutting gym classes; only 56% of students take them regularly.

6. c. Just 1/2 cup of baked beans offers 64 mg of calcium while a corn tortilla delivers 53 mg.

7. d. A Tufts University study shows that, regardless of education or income, families who turn off the tube during meals eat healthier. Maybe it's just a matter of focus.

8. b. To boost your child's level, make fitness a family event. Take walks after dinner, and plan weekend hiking or biking trips.

What's Your Score?

  • 7 or 8 You take the (carrot) cake. Keep up all your fabulous work.
  • 5 or 6 You're cookin' -- just check out www.bcm.tmc.edu/cnrc for an up-to-date chart of kids' nutrient needs.
  • 3 or 4 Get on better footing with the kids' section at www.fitness.gov.
  • 2 or fewer Grab a copy of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Guide to Your Child's Nutrition to boost your score (and your family's health) pronto.

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