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Kids take more veggies in lunch boxes if they help pack them: study

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New U.S. research has found that the number of vegetables included in children’s packed school lunches increases when children are involved in deciding which foods to pack.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Illinois, the new study looked at 90 pairs of parents and children, who all took home-packed lunches to school every day during the study.

Every day before the school period the researchers met with each child individually, unpacked their lunch, and made a note of the contents.

They found that nearly half of the lunches rarely or never included vegetables, and even when vegetables were included they usually made up just one-third to one-half of the recommended half-cup serving.

However, the good news is there may be an easy way of increasing the amount of veggies children take to school, and it’s simply to get them more involved in packing the lunches.

“When the child was more involved in deciding what to pack, their lunches contained more fruits and vegetables across the week and additional servings of vegetables on Mondays,” said lead author Carolyn Sutter. “Having the child help decide what they’ll eat for lunch may allow the parent and child to work together to choose fruits and vegetables the child is interested in eating.”

“Parenting practices that provide structure and support the child’s growing autonomy in dietary behavior have been found to be the most beneficial for promoting healthy habit development,” Sutter said. “These parents may create guidelines and limits around what their child can pack in their lunch, such as requiring them to include a vegetable some days, but also be responsive to their child’s needs and dietary preferences.”

The findings, published in the journal Appetite, also showed that children and their parents were also significantly better at including fruits, with kids taking around a full half-cup serving nearly every day.

About one-third of the families packed a fruit in the child’s lunch every day during the study.

Parents who were more knowledgeable about nutrition also included more fruit servings during the entire week and more servings of vegetables on Mondays. However, the number of vegetable servings declined across the week, possibly due to financial constraints and work stressors. For parents with limited resources, offering “nutrition education and suggestions on affordable vegetable options” could “help increase the number of vegetable servings children consume across the week,” noted Sutter.

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LIFESTYLES

University of Windsor establishes first Canadian transportation cybersecurity centre

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The University of Windsor will be the site of Canada’s first organization dedicated to countering threats to the connected transportation marketplace.

The SHIELD Automotive Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence will focus on developing the skills, innovations and policy to secure connected and autonomous vehicles.

Researchers will partner with industry, government and community stakeholders.

Co-founding and heading up the centre will be Dr. Mitra Mirhassani of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dr. Ikjot Saini of the School of Computer Science.

In the past year, the two University of Windsor professors were both recognized as being among Canada’s top talents in the automotive cybersecurity field.

“Hardware and software vulnerabilities could put personal information and vehicle safety in jeopardy,” said Mirhassani.

“Transportation systems are especially susceptible to attacks from malicious actors due to the complexity, implementation costs and lifecycles of equipment and platforms.”

The SHIELD centre is a continuation of the Windsor region’s focus on developing its cybersecurity ecosystem.

The province has already designated the area as the regional tech development centre for cybersecurity and border logistics.

The cybersecurity centre got a further boost this week with the announcement of a memorandum of understanding with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association (APMA).

APMA and SHIELD will collaborate to develop market-based technologies to meet the needs of producers and consumers and build academic programs to address industry’s evolving requirements.

“We hope that this partnership will help to advance a cybersecurity culture shift in the industry in Canada,” said APMA president Flavio Volpe.

“There is much work to be done to protect our collective interest in advancing this country’s globally competitive automotive sector.”

The centre will also promote the sharing of knowledge among parties to advance standards and enhance policies in the field.

Part of the plan is to offer micro credentialing through the university’s Continuing Education programs.

“We plan to offer consultation and test services to small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will help them stay up to date,” said Dr. Saini.

“Open-access publications and public webinars will widely share the latest information.”

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Hamilton police charge ‘Hugs Over Masks’ protest organizers in two separate events

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TORONTO — Hamilton, Ont., police say they have charged two organizers of an anti-mask protest group for holding events that allegedly violated public health rules.

Police say the events were held in downtown Hamilton on Jan. 3 and Jan. 10.

The force alleges that 40 people attended first event and 60 attended the second.

Current provincial restrictions limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people outdoors.

Police say they informed the “Hugs Over Masks” organizers that the planned Jan. 10 gathering would result in charges, but they went ahead with the event.

They say a 27-year-old man and 38-year-old woman are facing charges under the Reopening Ontario Act that carry a minimum fine of $10,000 if convicted.

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Ontario issues stay-at-home order to start Thursday as Ford declares state of emergency

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Premier Doug Ford is declaring another state of emergency, effective immediately, in response to surging COVID-19 infection rates.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Ford announced Ontario is issuing a stay-at-home order, effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

It requires people to stay home except for essential activities such as accessing health care or shopping for groceries.

The new measures also include restricting the hours of operation for non-essential retail stores such as hardware stores to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Addressing big box stores, which are allowed to remain open, Ford said an inspection blitz is coming to ensure they are following proper protocols.

“I’m going to come down on them like an 800-pound gorilla,” he said.

Schools in Hamilton, Toronto, York, Peel and Windsor-Essex will not return to in-person learning until Feb. 10.

Other public health regions, including Halton and Niagara, will find out when students can return to class by Jan. 20.

Schools will now require students in grades 1-3 to wear masks and masks will be required outside where physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Child-care centres for non-school aged children will remain open.

The premier announced the restrictions shortly after the province released new projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system.

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