Community partners across Hamilton working together to raise healthy kids in Hamilton mountain wards 6, 7, and 8. With the Healthy Kids Community Challenge, Ontario communities are taking action to promote the health of children through promoting healthy behaviours, physical activity and healthy eating. Over the next three years, Hamilton will receive over one million dollars from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to make this happen.
How can I get involved?
Getting involved in your community during the Healthy Kids Community Challenge is easier than ever. Every nine months, HKCC will launch a new theme related to physical activity or healthy eating. Together, we will bring these themes to life on the Hamilton mountain!
Join us as we look for ways to make it easier for you and your children to:
- Be physically active
- Create safe places to live, learn, and play
- Drink more water, rather than sugary drinks
- Enjoy eating well
- Sit less and move more
Theme 3: Choose to boost veggies and fruit
Over the next few months, our Healthy Kids Community Challenge will be working to encourage kids and families to make vegetables and fruit a part of every meal and snack. During this theme, Hamilton will introduce campaigns, policies, programs and environmental supports that will encourage kids to eat more vegetables and fruit.
Why you should choose to boost veggies and fruit
Vegetables and fruit contain many nutrients that protect our health and fuel our bodies. Nutrients provided by vegetables and fruit include carbohydrates, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and some B vitamins such as folate. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruit may reduce the risk of certain types of cancers and heart disease. This type of diet is also linked to healthy weights.
Vegetables and fruit: Both are important!
Vegetables and fruit are essential to kids’ health. They are a great choice to satisfy hunger any time of the day. They both contain important nutrients for children’s growing bodies. They are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre and other important plant nutrients. Although they are grouped together in Canada's Food Guide (PDF), different types of vegetables and fruit contain different kinds and amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
For example, iron and folate are higher in dark green vegetables than in other colours, or in fruit. Dark orange vegetables like squash or sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin A than oranges. Oranges are high in vitamin C. Therefore, ensuring kids eat a variety of both vegetables and fruit of many different colours is key to making sure they are getting sufficient nutrients.
Canada Food Guide servings
|Recommended number of vegetable and fruit servings per day|
|2 to 3 years old
|4 to 8 years old
|9 to 13 years old
Canada’s Food Guide offers these examples of serving sizes for common vegetables and fruit.
One serving of vegetables can include:
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) or 1 ear of corn
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) or 4 florets of cauliflower or broccoli
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) or 1 large carrot
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) or 6 spears of asparagus
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) of cooked fresh, frozen or canned vegetables such as beans, carrots, okra, bittermellon, bok choy or squash
- 250ml, (1 cup) of raw leafy greens such as lettuce, kale or spinach
- 125ml, (1/2 cup) of tomato, or tomato sauce
Fresh, frozen, canned or dried?
- Frozen and canned vegetables and fruit generally have the same nutritional value as fresh. They can be an affordable way to get the recommended daily servings.
- Dried fruit is a nutritious choice. Look for varieties with no added sugar or salt. A Food Guide Serving of dried fruit is 60mL, (1/4cup).
- Look for frozen, canned or dried vegetables and fruit without any added salt or sugar.
- Eat a mix of vegetables and fruit each day. Kids should eat at least one dark green vegetable (like broccoli, romaine lettuce, green peas and spinach) and one orange vegetable (like sweet potatoes, carrots and winter squash) each day.
- Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt. Vegetables that are served fresh, steamed, baked or stir-fired are better than deep fried.
- Have whole vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Juice is a concentrated source of free sugar. Eating vegetables and fruit provides more fibre than juice.
Boost veggies and fruit at home
- Expose children to a mix of different vegetables and fruit when they are young. Kids who eat veggies and fruit as toddlers are more likely to do so later in childhood.
- Role model healthy eating behaviours. Children are more likely to meet recommended vegetable and fruit intake when they see parents and other role models eating these foods often.
- Plan meals around vegetables.
- Kids are more likely to eat vegetables and fruit when they are made available and accessible at home.
- Have “grab and go” veggies and fruit ready as snacks between meals.
- Get children more involved in meal planning and preparation.
- Think about starting a garden or getting involved with a community garden.
Theme 2: Water Does Wonders
Throughout this theme, the City will aid in supporting healthy hydration for children and families with campaigns, policies, programs, and environmental supports. Communities have an important role to play in educating families about healthy drink habits and choices. Hamilton will work to make fresh drinking water easy to access and appealing wherever kids spend time.
Water is essential for good health. It is also the simple, convenient, and low cost option for quenching thirst. Let’s encourage kids and families to make water their first choice to drink with meals and throughout the day.
The human body is approximately 60% water and water is needed for many vital bodily functions, such as:
- Cooling off by sweating
- Carrying vitamins and minerals to different parts of the body
- Carrying waste (like carbon dioxide) out of the body
- Digesting food
- Maintaining fluid balance, blood pressure, and kidney health
- Allowing our muscles to work
If enough water or fluids are not comsumed, a person may:
- Become dehydrated
- Feel tired or dizzy
- Have trouble concentrating
- Get headaches
- Have a higher heart rate
- Get muscle cramps
Why does water do wonders?
- Children need water to stay hydrated and healthy, and makes up more than half of a child’s weight.
- Water contains no sugar, calories, additives or caffeine
- Dietary preferences are established between the ages 0 to 4, laying the foundation for eating habits later in life.
- When children are used to consuming water at a young age, they are more likely to drink water later in life.
- From ages 4 to 18, around 20% of the calories children and teens consume come from beverages.
- Younger children take in almost 30% of their calories from beverages.
- Sugary drinks often replace more nutritious choices and add extra calories and sugar to children’s diets.
- Sugary drinks are the single largest source of sugar in most kids’ diets.
- Research consistently shows a relationship between consumption of sugary drinks and weight gain in children
- Excessive sugar intake is associated with other negative health outcomes such as an increased number of dental cavities, risk of heart disease, and increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
What are sugary drinks?
Soft drinks (pop and soda)
Carbonated beverages that generally have a high amount of sugar and contain no nutrients (vitamins and minerals). It is healthiest to avoid these products.
Fruit drinks or punches
Fruit punch, fruit drinks, fruit cocktail, and fruit flavored beverages contain water, flavouring and added sugar. They offer few nutrients. It is healthiest to avoid these products.
Sports drinks are typically sold as electrolyte-replacers to help athletes rehydrate during and after exercise. While certain people can benefit from electrolyte replacement when engaging in prolonged, vigorous physical activity, most people don’t need sports drinks while exercising.
For most children, daily electrolyte requirement are met by a healthy balanced diet. Sport or energy drinks offer little to no advantage over plain water and simply add to an individual’s sugar intake. It is healthiest to limit or avoid these products.
Tea and coffee drinks
Tea and coffee are beverages that are usually high in caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and can have negative impacts on children. It is healthiest to limit or avoid these products.
Most energy drinks are carbonated drinks that contain large amounts of caffeine, sugar and other ingredients such as vitamins, amino acids and herbal stimulants. Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. Drinking energy drinks during exercise can lead to dehydration. Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid energy drinks.
Sweetened milk or milk alternatives (e.g., chocolate milk, and sweetened soy, rice, or almond beverages)
Sweetened milks or milk alternatives differ from other sugary drinks by providing protein, calcium and other nutrients. However, sweetened milk or milk alternatives should not take the place of plain milk or unsweetened soy beverage since they contain added sugar.
Juice made from 100% fruit can be a healthier choice than other sweet drinks because it contains some of the natural vitamins and nutrients (such as vitamin C) found in fruit. However, fruit juice - even those labelled ‘no sugar added’ - still contains a lot of naturally-occurring sugar and is a concentrated source of calories.
Drinking juice doesn’t provide same feeling of fullness as eating a serving of fruit or vegetables. Children should have no more than one serving (1/2 cup or 125 mL) of fruit juice each day.
How much water do we need?
- It is important that a person drink enough fluids to quench their thirst and to feel hydrated.
- Water is an excellent choice since it has no calories, no sugar, and is generally free and easily available.
- The amount of water a person needs to drink every day depends on a variety of factors, including age, weight, and gender. Air temperature, humidity, physical activity level and overall health are also factors.
- Before, during, and after any physical activity, kids need to drink plenty of water especially in hot and humid weather.
- When being active, a good goal is to drink ½ to 2 cups (125 to 500 mL) of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
How much water do infants and toddlers need?
It is recommended that infants breastfeed exclusively during their first 6 months to meet all their nutrition and hydration needs. They do not need additional water, unless advised by a doctor. Juices and other liquids should be avoided.
After 12 months of age, juice and sugary drinks should still be limited. Offer kids water when they are thirsty. Parents are encouraged to continue to breastfeed their children up to two years of age or beyond. Breastfeeding may reduce an infant’s risk of obesity later in life.
Which is better: tap or bottled water?
- Tap water is the best drinking water choice.
- The City of Hamilton’s drinking water consistently meets or exceeds all Ontario Drinking Water Standards.
- Tap water is free, widely available and convenient. It’s easy to set out a pitcher during meal time, at group activities or at community events.
- Kids can carry a refillable water bottle wherever they go.
- Drinking tap water is good for the environment. It helps reduce the number disposable plastic bottles going into the land fill.
Strict standards have been developed and require municipalities to test their water sources constantly to make sure they are safe. Learn more about water quality.
- Water does Wonders School Challenge
- Sip Smart!TM Ontario Classroom program
- Water themed educational summer camps
- Water Logged Challenge at local recreation centres
- Hydration stations at schools, recreation centres, and Ontario Early Year Centres
Hydration station at Captain Cornelius Park
- Fruit and Water Sports Initiative
- Water does Wonders Pledge
- Ongoing community engagement supported by the Hamilton Community Foundation
title="Theme 1: Run. Jump. Play. Every day."
Run. Jump. Play. Every day promotes physical activity through active play, active transportation, sports, and planned exercise.
Why run, jump, and play?
- You have fun playing with friends!
- Improve self-confidence
- Improve learning and attention
- Improve mental wellbeing
- Strengthen bones and muscles (including your heart!)
- Maintain a healthy weight
Follow us @cityofhamilton using #HealthyKidsON
Connect with us at HealthyKidsHamilton
- Date modified: