Staying Healthy

Adapted from the Tennessee Department of Health

Why is food and nutrition important for health? 

Healthy eating and regular physical activity can help prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.

A healthy diet is important for childhood development through staying active as a senior.Healthy eating is influenced by many factors, including stage of life, situations, preferences, access to food, culture, traditions and personal decisions. MyPlate offers ideas and tips to help you create a healthier eating style that meets your individual needs and improves your health. For more information about healthy eating visit

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Food Environments webpage has suggestions for healthier food choices for child care, schools, hospitals, worksites, restaurants, and communities.  CDC has compiled statistics in the Tennessee State Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Profile.

What are schools doing to promote health?

Schools influence the dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents.  The health of students is linked to their academic success.  Schools can support healthy eating and regular physical activity by providing opportunities for students to learn about and practice these behaviors.

The Department of Education’s Tennessee School Nutrition Program is responsible for proving nutritious meals and snacks for students in public and private schools, as well as residential and child care institutions. Nutrition standards require most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements.

For a detailed description of these federal requirements, see the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  All public schools in Tennessee are on the National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.

CDC combined research and best practices into MMWR: School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity.  Nine guidelines, each with a set of implementation strategies, help schools develop, implement and evaluate school-based healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices for students.  CDC’s Vitalsigns are great infographics and ideas about how to get kids to eat more fruits and vegetables at childcare and schools.

What about breastfeeding infants?

Feeding natural mother’s milk provides health benefits to mother and baby.  According to CDC’s website a woman’s ability to initiate and sustain breastfeeding is influenced by a host of factors, including the community in which she lives.  A woman’s community has many components, such as public health and other community-based programs, coalitions and organizations, schools and child care centers, businesses and industry, and the media.  The extent to which each of these entities supports or discourages breastfeeding can be crucial to a success in breastfeeding.  The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding has a helpful factsheet about How Communities Can Help support mothers who want to breastfeed.