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Briefs: Allegheny County sponsors environmental poster contest

| Monday, Nov. 16, 2009

Allegheny County Health Department is sponsoring its 11th annual environmental poster contest for students in sixth- through eighth grades.

The theme is "Green Buying Power" and aims to promote environmentally friendly choices when shopping for clothes, cosmetics, electronics, groceries, cleaning products, school supplies and other daily necessities.

Entry deadline is Feb. 12. Winners will be announced in March and honored in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations in April.

Teachers who would like to have their classes participate should contact the Health Department's Air Quality Program at 412-578-8028 or aconner@achd.net .

Finding the best winter coat for your child

No parent wants to endure the major hassle of putting their kids in coats, snow pants, gloves, hats, boots, and scarves just to have to take it all off again 10 minutes later because the kids are wet and cold. With budgets tighter than ever, parents also want value for their spending dollars. Playoutdoors.com offers tips on finding the right coat:

1. Functionality is most important, because then your child will be warm and comfortable. Consider what you need the coat for. Skiing and snow play• Rain and cold weather• Cold only, but not moisture• Knowing what your needs are will help you narrow down what coat is best.

2. Look for a coat that will last. If you are willing to spend a bit more, you can find a coat that will last two seasons. Look for brands that have built in grow seams. This will allow for extensions in arms and legs of 1 to 2 inches. It might cost more this year, but it will cost less than two coats in two years.

3. Think of yourself and whether you would wear that quality coat in the snow or cold• Sometimes, we skimp on our kids, knowing they are growing so fast. Good quality will make for a much better experience.

4. If kids like their coat, hats and gloves, they will be more likely to wear them. Let the child choose the coat from the narrowed-down selection that fits your qualifications and budget. Also, when children are allowed to let their personality shine via their hats, gloves and scarves, it's more likely they'll keep their winter gear on. So, let them pick out the accessories too.

5. Buy a coat with a little room inside so a sweater can fit underneath, but that's not too bulky. If the coat is a size too big, it could lead to an uncomfortable kid who won't wear it at all. Children still need to be able to run and play outside in the wintertime.

Parents can influence kids' eating habits

Store-bought food can be perfectly healthful for your baby, but make sure that you're buying the right kind.

Dr. William Sears is a best-selling author and noted pediatrician and an expert on pediatric health and nutrition. He offers five tips to ensure that the food you give your baby or toddler will set up a pattern of healthful eating for a lifetime:

• Parents should shape children's tastes, not control them. Surround your kids with a wide variety of nutritious, new foods, and let them explore tastes, colors and textures.

• Buy organic. Children's bodies are not able to handle the possible pollutants in non-organic food and are especially susceptible to pesticides and other chemicals and toxins.

• Get kids on the right track early. Help your children develop a taste for fruits and veggies from the start.

• Look out for additives in baby food. Avoid the terrible three: high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and trans fats, and any color additive with a number symbol.

• Set a good example. Parents should be healthful-eating role models for their children.

Visit askdrsears.com .

Census says many young adults still live with parents

According to a U.S. Census, 55 percent of men and 48 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 24 still live with their parents.

Poor nutrition stunts growth of 200 million children

Almost 200 million children in developing countries suffer from stunted growth and health problems due to poor nutrition in their early years, the United Nation's children's foundation UNICEF said. However, the percentage of children in Asia who have retarded growth fell to 30 percent last year from 44 percent in 1990, and in Africa to 34 percent from 38 percent over the same period, UNICEF said in a report.

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