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Running head: CHOOSE MY PLATE 1

Choose My Plate

Courtney Lantz

PPE 310 Arizona State University

Jennifer Houston

October 24, 2017


CHOOSE MY PLATE 2

Choose My Plate

Introduction

Childhood obesity is a quick growing problem in the United States. In the last 30 years,

the obesity rates for children aged 2-19 years has more than tripled. According to the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention website (2017), The prevalence of obesity was 8.9% among 2-

to 5-year-olds compared with 17.5% of 6- to 11-year-olds and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds

(para. 2). Although the rates are much lower at the younger age levels, they rise significantly into

middle childhood and adolescents. Even the seemingly lower rates are significantly alarming. It

is important that proper steps are taken to ensure even young children receive healthy nutrition

following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Healthy nutrition in early childhood not only
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combats obesity during this time, but it also helps develop healthy eating habits in middle

childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

Summary

For this assignment, a preschool breakfast, lunch, and snack were entered on the

ChooseMyPlate.gov SuperTracker. The breakfast included a whole grain bagel with cream

cheese, along with a peach, and low-fat milk. The lunch included a mashed potato and chicken

bowl (with gravy), a whole grain roll, seasoned carrots, and low-fat milk. Finally, the snack

included animal crackers and applesauce. No other options are available unless children bring in

their own food from home.

Dietary Requirements

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015) is an essential resource for health

professionals and policymakers as they design and implement food and nutrition programs that

feed the American people []. [It] also provides information that helps Americans make healthy

choices for themselves and their families (p. vii). The guidelines provide specific

recommendations for all the major food groups, as well as several other regularly ingested

dietary components.

Overall, the meals provided to these preschoolers met the needs of the Dietary Guidelines

for Americans. For the two meals and a snack provided, a single student had a total of 1122

calories, leaving 878 calories available for any other snacks and dinner (based on a 2000 calorie

diet). The child ate 5 ounces out of a recommended 6 ounces of grains, 1 cups out of a

recommended 2 cups of vegetables, 1 cups out of a recommended 2 cups of fruits, 2 cups

out of a recommended 3 cups of dairy, and 2 ounces out of a recommended 5 ounces of

protein. To meet the recommended daily values, the childs dinner would need to be primarily
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protein and vegetables, with only small amounts of the other food groups. In the two meals and

snack eaten, the child only consumed 9 grams of added sugar out of an allotted 50 grams.

However, their saturated fat intake and sodium were relatively high for what was still needed

from the rest of the day. The child ingested 12 grams of saturated fats out of a recommended 22

grams or less and 2052 milligrams of sodium out of a recommended 2300 milligrams or less.

They would need to be very cautious in their dinner selections to not exceed those values, though

it is completely possible.

Improvements

The biggest improvement that could be made to the meals provided for better nutritional

intake would be to lower the amount of sodium. Between the two meals and snack provided,

2052 mg of sodium was ingested out of the recommended 2300 mg per day from the Dietary

Guidelines for Americans. My first suggestion would be to use a low-sodium gravy for the

mashed potato bowl at lunch time. By doing so, the sodium would be lowered from 252 mg to

only 11 mg. My second suggestion would be to use carrots that were not seasoned so that there

was no salt added. This would lower the sodium intake from 221 mg to only 43 mg. These two

suggestions alone would lower the sodium intake by just under 420 mg, bringing the combined

total for the day to 1633 mg instead of 2052 mg. This leaves more room for the sodium that is

likely to be ingested at dinner or another snack so that these children are less likely to go over the

recommended daily value. A third suggestion I would make to improve the nutritional intake

would be to switch from low-fat milk to fat-free milk. Although it may seem like such a minor

change, it would drop the saturated fat from 2 g to 0 g. Since they are given milk at preschool

twice a day, five days a week, it really starts to add up. That would lower their intake by 20 g a

week just from school.


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Reflection

As the leader of any company, it is important to see the potential benefits from

implementing an activity such as this one. It is evident that there is a desperate need for change

to stop the obesity epidemic. Many Americans are unaware of the poor diet and nutrition choices

they make on a daily basis. It is important to do more than simply talk about the recommended

nutritional guidelines. Many people have grown up hearing about how many servings of each

food group they should eat per day. The obesity epidemic indicates that those recommendations

are being completely ignored. One of the best ways to help highlight the issue is to have

individuals begin to keep track of the calories they eat.

By requiring employees to keep track of their intake for one single day, they can visually

see the pitfalls of their nutritional intake. The SuperTracker makes it very easy to look up other

versions of the same foods so that they can see the nutritional differences. For example, if they

ate regular gravy and were over on their sodium, they could look up low-sodium gravy and see

how their values changed. Understanding that simple changes make such big differences will

make people more likely to be willing to make the change.

As a company, it is also important to use this information to develop wellness programs

around food and nutrition. For example, they could have a cafeteria that sells well-balanced,

nutritious meals to employees for a low price. Fast food restaurants are everywhere these days; It

is nearly impossible to pass a major intersection and not see at least one fast food establishment.

These places are known for their quick and convenient options that are usually very poor in

nutritional quality. With the addition of a cafeteria in the workplace, it combats the speed and

convenience offered by fast food restaurants because employees would no longer need to leave

the premises for lunch. By keeping prices low for these healthy options, it would be more likely
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to gain popularity. Of course, employees would still have the option of bringing their own food

from home or going out to nearby restaurants, but they would likely to pay a much heftier price,

not only in their wallet, but in their overall health as well.


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References

Childhood obesity facts. (2017, April 10). Retrieved October 22, 2017, from

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html

Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (2015, December). Retrieved October 19, 2017, from

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf