September is both National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and National Fruit and Veggies - More Matters Month.
Childhood obesity is a major public health problem. There is no single or simple solution to childhood obesity. It is influenced by many different factors, including a lack of access to healthy food and drinks, as well as limited opportunities for physical activity in the places where children live, play, and learn. Working together, states, communities, and parents can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for children and adolescents.
Maine CDC is proud to highlight Maine’s annual Harvest Lunch Week and Farm to School efforts this month. These programs succeed in getting Maine youth to enjoy eating more fruits and veggies, which is important since only 1 in 4 Maine youth eat the recommended number of veggies and fruits each day. Studies show that fruit and vegetables are important to support growth, good health, and a healthy weight. Eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables can also help protect against high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, and some cancers.
Maine Harvest Lunch is a Farm to School activity that introduces students to local Maine grown veggies and fruits in their natural form. US CDC supports Farm to School as an obesity prevention strategy because it engages youth in learning about, preparing, and eating more veggies and fruits. Eating fruits and veggies prepared without added fat in place of higher calorie foods can help maintain a healthy weight. About 26% of Maine youth are overweight or obese. Fortunately, Maine has nearly 200 Farm to School programs with Maine farmers, teachers, and school food service personnel working together to improve the wellbeing of Maine’s youth and communities.
Maine CDC’s Division of Population Health staff is part of the Maine Farm to School Workgroup that provides technical assistance, best practice guidelines, and support to local schools, farmers, and teachers working on Farm to School. The workgroup is made of partners from state agencies and nongovernment organizations. The Healthy Maine Partnerships have been working on Farm to School and Maine Harvest Lunch Week in their local service areas for years, which helps support Maine CDC’s efforts to reach the Healthy Maine 2020 goal of increasing Maine youth’s fruit and veggie consumption.
To find out how many servings of fruits and veggies you need, go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.
For more information about how to eat more fruits and veggies, check out this PDF