Strategies for healthy school lunches to prevent high blood pressure in kids

Strategies for healthy school lunches to prevent high blood pressure in kids

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a condition you really only think about in older Americans: hypertension.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is becoming increasingly prevalent in kids. It's something Dr. Monica Cramer sees a lot at Palmetto Health-USC's Pediatric Nephrology clinic.

"The most common patient that we see are older children, pre-teen, teenagers, who have essential hypertension based on poor diet, sedentary lifestyle or may have some family history. But typically associated with obesity," said Dr. Cramer.

According to the CDC, of school aged-children, one in five is obese. Hypertension now ranks in the top five chronic diseases in adolescents and kids. Factors are well-known: poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. According to health professionals WIS spoke to, a daily culprit of bad habits is school lunch.

"The school lunch is not a healthy lunch," Dr. Cramer said. "The school lunch also has a high salt content."

The solution is simple: are you packing your kid's lunch?

"The most important thing to think about when you're packing lunch for your children is to base the lunch on whole, real, unprocessed foods," said registered dietitian Mary Ann Grainger, "with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables."

WIS went grocery shopping with Grainger after she put together a week's worth of healthy, packed lunches. She created a lunch menu that added up to about $2.51 per meal, accounting for using up the extra ingredients for other meals during the week. It only took us less than ten minutes to gather all the items on the list and get checked out.
You can view her sample plan below:

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