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What can promoting a healthy diet early in life do to your child

Harold Mandel's picture
Bottle feeding a child

Horribly poor diets coupled with sedentary lifestyles are igniting the obesity epidemic which generates more than emotional problems linked to appearance. Obesity is associated with higher rates of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and premature death. New research shows that in order to effectively win the war against obesity it is important to begin promoting a healthy diet early in life.

It is important to promote a healthy diet from infancy

A team of researchers has found that in order to prevent childhood obesity and the onset of chronic disease it is important to promote a healthy diet from infancy reported the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. This study described quantity and diversity of food and drinks which are consumed by kids aged 12-16 months. Lead researcher Rebecca Byrne has pointed out the toddler years are a vital age in the development of long-term preferences for food. This is also the time in life that autonomy, independence and food fussiness first begins.

In Australia childhood obesity has doubled since 1986

In Australia alone childhood obesity has doubled since 1986, with approximately 21 percent of kids aged 2-3 years now classified as being overweight or obese. The researchers point out that it is important to like a nutrient-dense diet which incorporates all five food groups. They say that evidence suggests that food preferences begin to develop at this early time in life and persist into adult life.

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Completely unnecessary foods are consumed by most kids

Iron deficiency has emerged as being a continuing issue for toddlers in both developed and developing parts of the world. Although it was observed that most toddlers were consuming a diverse diet, it was also observed that the amount and type of meat or meat alternatives was actually poor. Just about all of the kids were consuming foods the researchers consider completely unnecessary at this early age,
such as sweet biscuits.

The researchers described the quantity and diversity of food and beverage consumption in Australian kids aged 12–16 months reports Wiley in a discussion of this study. It was observed that dairy and cereal were the most commonly consumed food groups. These were also found to be the greatest contributors to daily energy consumption.

Most kids ate fruit and vegetables. However, 91 percent of the kids ate discretionary food items. About half of the sample ate less than 30 g of meat or meat alternatives. About 25 percent of the infants were breastfeeding while formula was consumed by 32 percent of them. There was increased formula intake with lower dietary diversity.

The researchers concluded the quality of dietary consumption in this group of kids is highly variable. The majority of toddlers were consuming a diverse diet. However, most of them ate discretionary items. The amount and type of meat and meat alternatives consumed was consistently poor.

Clearly therefore the researchers offer good advice for health professionals to advise parents to offer iron-rich foods, while limiting discretionary choices. It is also suggested to consider formula early in life at a time which has been found to be critical in the development of long-term food preferences.