Kansas Campaign Highlights Health of Lowfat Dairy

US - This Autumn, children and families participating in the Kansas Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program are expected to benefit from “Moove to Lowfat Dairy,” a state campaign encouraging a change to health-promoting lowfat dairy products, a Kansas nutrition specialist said.
calendar icon 7 October 2008
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The move to lowfat dairy products is typically recommended for children ages two or older, said Karen Fitzgerald, coordinator of the Kansas Nutrition Network, a statewide coalition of nutrition and health professionals.

“Breast-feeding is recommended for infants from birth to one year of age, and whole milk is recommended for children from ages one to two years,” Fitzgerald said. “The fat content in whole milk is beneficial to growth and development during this year.”

At age two and older, nutrition and health professionals generally recommend a move to lowfat dairy products that offer beneficial nutrients (calcium for healthy bones and teeth and Vitamin D), but fewer calories from fat, said Fitzgerald, who recommends a gradual change from whole milk to 2 percent milk, then 1 percent milk to skim milk.

The recommendation will be incorporated into WIC checks beginning October, 2009.

To help families make the transition, Kansas nutrition specialists from a variety of state programs and services are introducing the concept with a little help from a nutrition-savvy cow – Clarice – and her son, Carlos, who take the lead in delivering the healthy message in a colorful and entertaining children’s book titled: “Moove to Lowfat Milk!”

The book is printed in English and Spanish and includes tips for parents and activities for families, Fitzgerald said.

The educational, lifestyle campaign is distributing more than 29,000 copies of the book to families with children ages two and above who are participating in the state’s WIC program, she said. Free distribution of the books has been made possible through a grant funded by the United Methodist Health Ministry Fund.

The push for health-promoting dairy products is expected to help children learn to make healthy choices, yet also encourage family members and adult caregivers to do the same, the nutrition specialist said.

Extra calories and fat can add extra pounds at any age, Fitzgerald said. Choosing lowfat dairy products is one component in managing weight, but doing so also should help to reduce osteoporosis, a bone disease that can impact the quality of life for older adults, she said.

The Kansas campaign, which is set to launch in October, 2008, is drawn from a similar campaign developed by the Florida WIC program in cooperation with its state department of health, she said.

More information on the “Moove to Lowfat Dairy” campaign is available at county and district K-State Research and Extension offices and at local WIC clinics.

WIC is a U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition education program that currently serves more than 75,000 pregnant women and children (up to age five) in Kansas. The Child and Adult Care Food Program, a U. S. Department of Education program, which provides menus for school lunch and day care programs for children and adults, also is a partner for the campaign, and will highlight it at fall training sessions for child care programs.

Copies of the book also are being distributed by the Kansas Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (KACCRRA), which has provided training to infant and toddler specialists and to child care homes and centers in the state.

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