By Rhea Li, nutritionist at the Children's Cancer Hospital
Chicken nuggets, fries and pizza top the list of favorite foods for most kids, whether these items are healthy or not. As adults, we know that a regular diet high in fat and sugar can cause long-term damage to our bodies.
Obesity doesn't discriminate
Childhood cancer survivors and healthy children are at risk
Studies have linked obesity to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and it has become a growing concern in the United States. Like the healthy public, more than one-third of childhood cancer survivors are overweight or obese. Many attribute this to issues related to therapy received as a patient, bad eating habits adopted during treatment and a general lack of exercise.
Last year, I was part of a team that launched the Optimizing Nutrition (ON) to Life Program at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital. It's a multidisciplinary program that promotes healthy eating habits in pediatric cancer patients and survivors by combining education, behavioral sciences and innovative laboratory research.
Nutritionists, educators and health care teams work together with patients and their families to help them implement better nutrition within their daily lives. The program also hopes to educate the community about what healthy families can do to reduce their risks of cancer through nutrition.
New eCookbook offers family-friendly nutritious recipes
One of our newest endeavors is the development of an eCookbook, an online database of healthy recipes collected from chefs across the region, as well as our patients and families. The recipes involve a short list of ingredients commonly found in one's pantry and are easy to prepare. Each recipe is vetted through a committee of health experts and parents.
We need your help
Right now, we are hosting a healthy recipe contest to collect recipes for our eCookbook. Everyone is invited to submit their favorite nutritious recipes. We've had many Houston-area businesses donate prizes for each category winner. Prizes range from Children's Art Project items and sporting event packages to movie tickets and a fun night at Pinot's Palette.
Please help us build our eCookbook. Enter your recipe and encourage your friends to do the same. Visit us online for more information and follow us on Facebook. Contest entries are due by July 6.