The Kauai Teachers’ Guide to
Everything you ever wanted to know about the health of your
Food: Fuel The Body, Fuel The Mind
The Importance of Nutrition Education and School Gardens
Proper nutrition is especially important for children because it can have an impact on
growth, development and the child’s ability to learn. A child who does not receive proper
nutrition cannot attain maximal health. They cannot reach their physical and mental
Most people establish their personal food and exercise habits in their first 10-15 years of
life so it is important to introduce positive nutritional messages early in life. The ability
to choose nutritious food is not instinctive but a skill that is learned from experience and
their surrounding environment. Proper education and role models are critical.
According to the HNENA study which looked at the state of health of Hawaiians, 25%
of fourth grade male students and 27% of female students reported eating zero vegetables
per day. Over 50% fourth graders reported eating only 1-2 vegetables per day. Fruits and
vegetables provide many essential vitamins and minerals. Also, higher intakes of fruits
and vegetables are associated with healthier lives including lower risk of certain diseases.
It is recommended that children eat five fruits and vegetables a day.
Studies have been conducted to look at some of the benefits of school gardens which
include positive effects on self-esteem and environmental attitudes as well as on
nutritional attitudes and behaviors.
Vital Vitamins and Minerals for Children’s Growth and Health
The most recent data from 2008 is as follows:
15% of students do not eat any vegetables
40% ate only potatoes or tomato sauce (aka French fries and ketchup)
20% did not consume any fruit
Children ages 6-12 eat an average of 2.5 fruits and vegetables a day, which is only half of
the recommended servings, 5.
Different fruits and vegetables are packed with different vitamins and minerals. Most are
also low in calories.
Helps keep eyes, skin and bones healthy
Helps fight against cancer
Sources: Apricots, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, sweet
Helps the body fight infection
Helps prevent cancer
Good for bones, teeth and skin
Sources: Citrus Juices, Grapefruits, oranges, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
Carries oxygen in the blood from your lungs to your heart and to all parts of the body.
Sources: Beans, Lentils, Pork, Peanut Butter, Raisins, Beef, Lamb, Oatmeal
Important for strong bones and teeth
Sources: Broccoli, soy milk, milk, orange, yogurt, cheese
Tips To Healthy Eating and Physical Activity for Children
Start the day with breakfast
Spend at least 1 hour per day being physically active, get moving and work up a sweat,
Join physical activity at school
Limit use of TV and video games to no more than 1 hour per day
Eat smaller amounts, bigger is not always better
Drink lots of water and avoid soda and sugary drinks
Eat a total of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day
Eat less fast food (no more than once per week)
Snack Smart: Snack on healthy foods and eat less junk food and sweets
Drink or eat 3 low-fat dairy foods a day
Make healthy eating and exercise fun
Spread food throughout the day
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day
Tips for Teachers
Introduce a new fruit or vegetable of the week
Have the children create healthy recipies
Make a healthy cookbook with your class
Get your students excited about eating healthy!
Add your own ideas here: ____________________________
In the past 10 years obesity levels have doubled in the U.S. which is a serious issue
because being overweight can lead to many serious health problems. Being obese or
overweight in childhood can increase the risk of developing asthma, depression, diabetes
and heart disease. Parents and families can help children reach a healthy weight. Even
small changes in weight can reduce the risk of health problems.
Being overweight occurs when people eat more calories than they use. It’s a simple
balancing act between what you eat and drink and how much physical activity they
According to the HNENA study during the 2002-2003 school year Kauai had the highest
percentage of overweight kindergarten students in all of Hawaii, 16.4 percent.
In 2008, 15% of fourth grade students in Kauai did not participate in at least 30 minutes
of mild physical activity within 1 week. Physical activity improves health even if weight
loss does not occur. Children should be active for at least 60 minutes everyday. This
physical activity can even be spread out over the course of the days. For example,
spreading it out into 15 minute intervals. Some classrooms even have their students jump
up and down for one minute in the morning and one minute at the end of the day and
have seen positive health benefits. Learning to exercise and love physical activity starts at
a young age.
Obesity among youth is measured by a formula based on body mass index.
BMI= Kilograms/meters squared.
A BMI greater or equal to the 85% and less than 95% is considered overweight. A BMI of
greater or equal to 95% is considered obese.
Traps that can lead to obesity
Soda: A can of non-diet soda has about 120 calories and 7 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking
soda can add hundreds of calories per day and can really add up over the year.
Fast Food: A large Fast food meal can have up to 1,500 calories. It takes 5 minutes to eat
a fast food mealbut it would take 4 hours of basketball or 3 hours of jogging to burn those
fast food calories.
Tips for Teachers
Allow only healthy snacks in the classroom
Limit birthday snacks to healthy treats
Start an exercise program with your class
Introduce a new sports or activity to your class
As a class train for a short fun run/ walk
Add your own ideas here:__________________________________________________
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to have high cholesterol. But, anyone
can have high cholesterol, even children. In many cases genetics can account for high
cholesterol in children. In other cases eating too many foods high in cholesterol, saturated
fats and trans fats can cause high cholesterol.
Steps to Control Cholesterol
2. Eat at least 5 fruits or vegetables per day and add fiber in foods such as fruits,
vegetables ad whole grains
3. Limit saturated fats and high cholesterol foods such as cheese, ice cream and
4. Read labels and avoid all trans-fats
Tips for Teachers
Give a lesson about reading nutrition food labels
Teach your students about good fats such as avocados and nuts and bad fats such as those
found in chips
Teach about eating in moderation and limiting unnatural snack foods
Add your own ideas here:_______________________________________________
Diabetes is a serious life long illness. People with diabetes have trouble making insulin, a
hormone that helps control the amount of sugar in the blood. When a person has diabetes
either their body does not make enough insulin or does not have the ability to use its own
insulin very well. This problem causes glucose (Sugar) to build up in the blood.
There are 2 major types of Diabetes:
Can develop at any age
It can be successfully managed but not prevented or cured
About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1
Caused by genes, viruses, and toxins
Being overweight increases the risk
Most people with diabetes have this type
Physical activity and a healthy diet can often prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes
People with pre diabetes have a higher than normal blood sugar level
Unless they take steps to control weight and increase physical activity, most people with
pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes
Major Risk Factors for Diabetes for Children
Lack of physical activity
Race: African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders
Having a mother who had diabetes while pregnant
Family history of diabetes
What does it mean to control your sugars?
Carbohydrates are a good source of energy for our bodies. But eating too many carbs
at one time can cause blood sugar to get too high. Many foods contain carbs. Healthier
carb choices include whole grain foods, nonfat milk or low fat milk and fresh fruits and
vegetables. Bad carbs for diabetics are white bread, whole milk, sweetened fruit drinks,
regular soda, potato chips, sweets and desserts because they are difficult for the body to
Why control diabetes?
Having uncontrolled blood sugar can cause other health problems. High blood sugar can
harm blood vessels and can eventually cause heart attacks or strokes. It can also damage
organs in the body and cause blindness, kidney failure, loss of toes or feet, gum problems
or loss of teeth. If diabetes is controlled these illnesses can be avoided.
Feeling nervous, shaky, sweaty
Passing out or seizures
Drinking juice can help increase blood sugar if levels are low
The Key to Beating Diabetes
Be physically active
Eat a healthy diet
Take medication consistently
Control and check blood sugar levels several times a day
Physical Activity can…..
Prevent or control diabetes
Help control weight
Lower blood Pressure
Tips for Teachers
Support your students that have diabetes.
Consider allowing the student with the disease teach the class about what its like to have
Promote healthy eating and Exercise
Add your own idea here:____________________________________________________
Asthma is a lung disease that makes it hard to breath because of narrowing of the air
passageways. 1 in 5 children in Hawaii have asthma. Symptoms of asthma can include
coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. People can develop asthma
at any age but it often develops during childhood. Asthma is a long-term condition
There is no cure for asthma but there is medication to help control it
Tips for controlling Asthma in children
Have a regular doctor
Take controller medication every day for persistent asthma
Avoid all allergens including foods
Stay away from asthma triggers such as cigarette smoke
Asthma Medications 101
Many asthma medicines are inhaled by using a nebulizer or a pump
Controller Medications should be used if the child has persistent asthma. Persistent
asthma means that daytime symptoms occur more than twice per week or night time
symptoms occur more than twice per month. Controlling medication must be taken
everyday. Even if the child feels well that day. The most effective controllers are
called inhaled corticosteroids. They are prescribed in small doses and are safe. Inhaled
corticosteroids are not that same as the steroids that weightlifters take to gain muscle.
Quick Relief Medications
Carry these medications at all times in case of emergency
Unlike controllers, quick relief medicines do not prevent attacks
With asthma under control children can…..
Participate fully in sports and other physical activites.
Not miss school
Sleep though the night
Avoid severe progression of the disease
Not need to go to the emergency room or be hospitalized
Triggers for asthma attacks
Colds and upper respiratory infections
Furry pets, cockroaches, mice, dust, mites
Tips for Teachers
Maintain a clean, dust free classroom
Keep an extra set of students medication in the classroom or with the school nurse
Allow the student to keep the medication with them
Recognize the early warning signs of an asthma attack
Allow the child to sit out from an activity if they don’t feel well
Maintain open communication with the child and parents about the status of the illness
Add your own ideas here:_______________________________________________
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
ADHD is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. It is characterized by attentional
problems and hyperactivity. Symproms usually begin before age 7. ADHD is the most
commonly diagnose psychiatric disorder in children and is diagnosed in about 2 to 16 %
of school aged children. It is a chronic disorder that often continues into adulthood. It is
2-4 times more frequently diagnosed in boys than girls.
Methods of treatment involve lifestyle changes, medication and counseling.
Foods that Can Help Children with ADHD
The essential fatty acid, omega 3 DHA.
Studies have shown that many children with learning disorders have a deficiency in
essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are needed to fuel the brain.
Sources: Fish, flax seeds, nuts, omega 3 fish oil supplements, DHA omega 3 eggs
Vitamin B Complex
These vitamins are linked to improved neuronal activity.
Sources: Nutritional yeast, liver, whole grain cereals and breads, rice, nuts, milk, eggs,
meat, fish, fruit, leafy green vegetables and soy, supplements
Helps sustain energy evenly all day long. A protein packed lunch is essential to helping
children with ADHD make it through the school day successfully.
Sources: Meat, cheese, chicken, fish, nuts
Supports cell membranes and aids the nervous system especially in impulse transmission
which could improve a child’s behavior.
Sources: Milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, kale, collard greens, whole grains
Has a calming effect on the nervous system. It helps to maintain normal muscle and
nerve function and is in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
Sources: Spinach, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains
Zinc and Iron
These are micronutrients that are needed by the body everyday but in small amounts.
Studies have shown that children with ADHD have lower levels of Zinc in their bodies
than children without ADHD. Iron helps regulate the brain neurotransmitter Dopamine
which may help children with ADHD.
Sources: Fruits, vegetables, animal products, sugar-free vitamins
Foods to Avoid in Children with ADHD
It robs the body of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. It also increases hyperactivity by
preventing blood sugar levels from remaining stable. When looking at food labels avoid:
corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, dextrose
Sources of hidden sugar: Breakfast cereal, energy bars, sweetened drinks, soy milk,
Some studies show that it may be a good idea to avoid food coloring such as red and
yellow as well as monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Hydrogenated oils: Trans fats and saturated fats
These are “bad fats.” Bad fats are not only the nemesis in weight loss they also inhibit
unhealthy nerve function and interfere with the brain. Generally these fats are solid at
Sources of Good Fats: Olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil
It pulls minerals out of the bones which means that a child may be loosing the minerals
he needs to assist his nerve function.
Sources: Chocolate, coffee, tea, soda, desserts
May interfere with proper mineral balance and can cause depletion of the minerals
needed to keep the neurons firing in a healthy manner.
Sources: Chips, pretzels, canned food, frozen meals, soups
Tips for Teachers
Communicate with the child’s parents. Find out the child’s needs and what they need to
Develop and use a behavioral plan with daily positive reinforcement
Break long assignments into shorter chunks
Write important information down
Alternate seated activities with active activities
Allow for frequent breaks
Add your own ideas here:_________________________________________________
Control Your Cholesterol: Keep Your Heart Healthy. NYC Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene. Health Bulletin. Volume 5, Number 8.
Diabetes is Epidemic. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Health
Bulletin.Volume 5, Number 4.
Kick Asthma. NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Health Bulletin. Volume
7, Number 2.
MSNhealth.com 5 foods to feed your child with ADHD and 5 to avoid
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Teens Speak About Getting Fit
Tips for Teens with Diabetes, Make Healthy Food Choices. National Diabetes Education
Program. March 2009. NIH Publication No. 09-5295s.
Tips for Teens with Diabetes, What is Diabetes? National Diabates Education Program.
Novemeber 2007. NIH Publication No. 08-5295.
Tips for Teens with Diabates, Dealing with the Ups and Downs of Diabetes. Novemeber
2007. NIH Publication No. 08-5558.