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Children's Nutrition

Is Your Child in the Obesity Danger Zone?

Indeed, in the public conversation about the obesity crisis, you don't hear much about kids who are simply a little chubby. Media reports and political campaigns focus on the children who are clinically obese (with a BMI above the 95th percentile) and, to a slightly lesser extent, overweight (at or above the 85th percentile). Each year, efforts to help these kids—through behavioralintervention programs, medications, and treatments for weight-related health problems—cost the U.S. around $14 billion. But returns on this investment are scant. While childhood obesity has recently dipped in certain subgroups, such as low-income preschoolers, it remains stubbornly high overall. To make a real impact, say many experts, we need to focus on children like Grace, often referred to in research circles as having a "highnormal" BMI. These kids may not look worrisomely heavy, but they're at risk for becoming so. Children age 41/2 and under who have a BMI between the 75th and 85th percentile are six times more likely to become overweight or obese by age 12 than kids with a BMI in the 50th percentile or lower, according to a study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Give your child the nutrients he needs to grow up big and strong with these ideas for healthy meals, snacks, and more. Plus: What you need to know about your child's school lunch.

Do Kids Need To Drink Milk?

I can't seem to get through my Facebook newsfeed these days without seeing a reference to milk—either somebody denouncing it as a health hazard or extolling the virtues of whole, pastured, raw milk. Granted, I follow a lot of food bloggers and opinionated types. But there seems to be a definite uptick in the chatter from people at both ends of the spectrum, leaving a lot of people in the middle awfully confused.

And speaking of the middle, that's exactly where I come down on it. Here's my two cents:

Do kids need to drink milk?

Yes and no. It provides a really nice package of a lot of nutrients kids need, including calcium and vitamin D that are important for building bone. Milk is also an easy way to get filling protein and much-needed potassium. But if your child doesn't like it, there's an issue of allergy or intolerance, or your family follows a vegan lifestyle, a well-planned diet can provide these nutrients too.

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