Health Watch -- Nutrition On the Run

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


Busy schedules don't mean you have to skimp on nutrition.

Now that the school year is in full swing, teens and children may be busier than ever with schedules packed with classes, homework, sports and after-school activities. Nutrition is often the first casualty of these busy schedules. Some children and many teens often skip breakfast in their rush to get to school in the morning. After school, they may grab a bag of chips or some other high-calorie, nutritionally empty junk food as a snack before they head to sports practices, meetings and other activities.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say rising child obesity rates make it important for parents to monitor their children's nutrition, even when kids are eating on the run.

Dr. Laura Scalfano, a UT Southwestern pediatrician and expert on childhood obesity, says parents should look for quick, nutritious alternatives to junk food. For a fast breakfast on a busy school day, try a milkshake made from skim milk, low-sugar yogurt and berries.

Instead of grabbing a bag of chips as a snack after school, kids should have a handful of nuts, low-fat cheese, an apple, some berries or raw veggies. Other nutritious and filling snack ideas include low-sugar nut butters, low-carb yogurt and lean luncheon meat. All of these snacks will recharge kids for afternoon activities. They provide nutrition instead of just empty calories.

Skim milk and water are good alternatives to sodas or sugar-filled fruit-flavored drinks.

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Oct. 2004

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