Healthy Start: Breastfeeding
- Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants, and breastfeeding has been shown to promote mother-infant bonding.
- Breastfed children benefit from greater immunity against a variety of illnesses and infections during infancy, but also benefit lifelong from:
- reduced risk of diabetes, asthma, allergies, overweight/obesity, and certain cancers
- enhanced visual, motor, and oral development
- higher IQ and school performance
- Breastfeeding mothers also benefit from reduced risk of postpartum depression, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and overweight/obesity.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, with continued breastfeeding through at least 12 months of age.
- There are plenty of resources available to assist mothers who need help with breastfeeding, including low-cost or free resources.
- Approximately 80% of mothers in Los Angeles County initiate breastfeeding, 49% continue breastfeeding through six months after delivery, and 29% breastfeed through 12 months after delivery.
Healthy Changes Start in Preschool
Healthy Eating at School
With more than 900,000 students attending public schools across Los Angeles County, there is a tremendous opportunity to instill good dietary habits among students. More than 200 million breakfast and lunch meals were served in school cafeterias in the county during the 2008-09 school year, making the cafeteria a great learning laboratory. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) came out with the following recommendations to better align school menus with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- A minimum and maximum calorie level for meals
- More fruit at breakfast, including whole fruit
- A greater amount and variety of vegetables at lunch
- More whole grain rich foods
- Milk choice limited to fat-free unflavored or flavored milk and plain low-fat milk
- Increased emphasis on limiting saturated fat
- Reduction in sodium content to be achieved by 2020, with stepwise reductions
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves more than 650,000 meals daily, recently unveiled a new student-driven cafeteria menu with a wellness program that ties in proper eating and regular exercise. I’m In is a program designed to raise awareness about the District’s healthy meals to help fight childhood obesity, as well as encourage student attendance and dropout prevention.