Are your Children a dietary time-bomb
Many of today’s children are eating diets saturated with fat, sugar, salt and artificial chemicals. They are missing out on healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, and slicing years off their lives in the process. They are also far less active than their parents where – tending to be ferried everywhere by car and often preferring to, slouch in front of the television or a computer screen rather than burn off energy taking part in sports.
Conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and Type 2 diabetes (previously called ‘adult onset diabetes’) are being found in teenagers and even children. Once, these diseases didn’t show up until people hit their forties, but because children are picking up self-destructive eating habits, they are giving themselves a head start in damaging their bodies.
Childhood obesity, especially excess weight around the stomach, has been proven to be a key factor of the metabolic syndrome – a group of symptoms that is associated with Type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke in adulthood.
This generation of kids could be heading for heart attacks and strokes in their forties rather than their sixties.
Fat Burgers, chips, pizzas, sausage and crisps – so many of the foods children love are dripping with fat. Processes meat products are high in saturated fats, the kind that raises levels of harmful cholesterol and increase the risk of cancer. And all fat contributes to obesity.
Sugar Children love sweet things, sugar (especially between meals) can rot their teeth and because it is ‘more-ish’, sugary foods and fizzy drinks can lead to piling on the pounds. Children filling up on sweets and chocolate are also less likely to eat healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables – the very foods that could add years to their lives.
Salt Processed foods and snacks such as crisps can be amazingly high in salt, and while an adult’s recommended maximum salt intake is 6g per day, a childs safe maximum is proportionally smaller. And, salty diets in childhood can lead to the problems associated with high blood pressure-mainly heart disease and stroke-striking that much earlier.
These are the daily recommended daily maximums
· 1-3 years old: 2g salt per day (0,8g sodium)
· 4-6 years old: 3g salt per day (1.2g sodium)
· 7-10 years old: 5g salt per day (2g sodium)
· 11 years old and over as adults: 6g salt per day (2,5g sodium )
Additives Think how many of the foods aimed at children are brightly coloured. Although additives used in food have to undergo testing for toxicity, there is still widespread concern whether the ‘safe levels’ set could still be harmful over the long term, especially by increasing cancer risk. When you think about it, it makes sense to minimise your intake of unnecessary artificial chemicals, if there is even just a possibility they could be harmful.
The most recent National Diet and Nutrition survey of British children aged 4-18
found they ate more than the recommended levels of sugar, salt and fat (including
saturated fat), and not enough fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Children’s food: How to live longer.
We parents are the biggest influence on our child’s food preferences, so from an early age get them into the habit of eating nutritious foods. Eating habits established in childhood can last a lifetime.
Things you can do now
· Have a healthy snack box at home, rather than chocolate and biscuits. Fill it with snack size bags of dried fruit and nuts, or low fat treats such as low sugar and low fat oat bars etc.
· Keep the fruit bowl overflowing, and encourage them to grab from it when they feel a snack attack coming on.
· Encourage children when they show an interest in sports, and steer them towards active toys like bikes, skipping ropes, hula hoops and space hoppers.
· Be an active family – make fun walks, family cycle rides and kick a football about in the park as part of your weekend treats.
· Children learn by example, so take up sport yourself and let your enthusiasm rub off. Many adult sports clubs have junior sections.
· If its practical, leave the car at home and walk the school and shops with them.
Feed your Children right:
1. Choose whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and low fat popcorn.
2. Go dark green and orange with your vegetables, spinach, broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato.
3. Focus on fruit’s, eat them at meals and also at snack time too. Choose fresh frozen, canned, or dried, and go easy on the fruit juice.
4. To build strong bones serve low fat and fat free milk and other milk products several times a day.
5. Eat lean or low fat meat, chicken, turkey and fish. Also give more beans and peas, nuts and seeds.
6. We all need oil, best oils are from fish, liquid oils such as corn, soybean, canola, and olive oil.
7. Choose foods and beverages that do not have sugar and caloric sweeteners as one of the first ingredients. Added sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients.
With regards to our children’s health, Scientists believe that children who grow up in pet-owning households are less likely to suffer from minor infections than those in non pet households. It’s thought that the constant ‘low grade’ stimulation of the immune system by antigens from the pets keeps their immune system on its toes. Children have also been found to be less likely to develop allergies ( this includes all allergies, not just allergies to pets) in pet owning households. Striving for a virtually sterile environment is now believed to be counter productive in trying to prevent allergies and illness – in adults as well as children. Sensible hygiene is of course crucial, but not wrapping your children in cotton wool is the wisest course of action.
The website is copyright of Lynne Wheatman 2007 - 2009
fairies through the site, courtesy of Gwynneth and Artist Amy Brown