June 2011 Prepared Foods-- Statistics from Shape Up America! indicate more than 12 million children in the U.S. can be classified as obese, with 23 million considered overweight. To help combat this, Shape Up America! and the National Turkey Federation (NTF) have joined together to “arm parents with the facts and tools to make simple changes--or “upgrades”--in favorite meals and physical activity levels, so everyone can reap the benefits of taking in less calories.”

Parents can “improve their children’s weight status” with an online tool, the Meal Upgrade Calculator. The interactive website offers guidance on nutritionally improving favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, while also offering the chance for parents to assess the weight status of their children and “reduce the calories and fat consumed in meals served at school and in restaurants.”

NTF and Shape Up America! estimate these meal and activity “upgrades” can save families up to 200 total calories per day, through meal improvements and added physical activity. The announcement comes in the wake of a March 2011, ORC International survey, which found a distinct disconnect between parents’ perception of their child’s physical status and the reality of the child’s health. ORC found 34% of children in the study met the criteria for overweight or obesity, but 76% of their mothers did not recognize that fact and were not taking steps to improve their children’s health status.

The same ORC survey asked, “What is the biggest obstacle you face when serving your family more nutritious foods?” Some 39% of moms noted their children were picky eaters and only liked certain foods, but 26% said nutritious meals “take a lot more time to prepare,” with 25% indicating such meals are “often more expensive.”
In restaurant behaviors, only 23% of moms look for calorie information on restaurant menus, and 21% note they cannot find the calorie information on menus in restaurants where they dine.