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      Experts offer back to school nutrition tips

      COLUMBIA (WACH) -- According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, about 25 percent of all American children and adolescents are overweight, an alarming 20 percent increase over 10 years ago.

      The Palmetto Health Children's Hospital offers these tips to help keep children healthy as they head back to school:

      - When your child arrives home from school, encourage fun physical activity"such as shooting basketball, bicycle riding or dancing"for the first hour or two, rather than doing homework. Prepare a few nutritious meals over the weekend for busy weeknights, so that you can enjoy a healthy dinner together.

      - Don TMt make unhealthy snacks, such as chips and soda available. Instead, have healthy alternatives, such as favorite fruits, vegetables, nuts, low-fat cheese and salsa with low-fat corn chips available at home and for school lunches.

      - Provide small containers of bottled water and low-fat milk to help your child avoid the beverage machines.

      - Schedule time right after dinner for homework and then for household chores. This limits the amount of television viewing and sedentary time.

      - Encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast, for academic reasons as well as for the nutritional benefits.

      - Take an active role in Parent Teacher Organizations. Work to get the soda machines out of the schools and to replace the junk in vending machines with healthier choices.

      For more back to school nutrition tips visit the Palmetto Health Children's Hospital website.