Infants and junk food


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Why are we feeding our kids so much crap?

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If you have spent any time in a shopping centre, or at a park that mums, nannies and prams inundate at 9 or 10am each morning, chances are you would have noticed that our small children seem to eat a lot more than they used to. Babychinos, biscuits, dried fruit and rice snacks fill tiny plastic containers as carers continually feed their young ones in an attempt to pacify them so they can enjoy their skim capp in peace. You have probably also noticed that the foods small children are eating are not always so healthy. Potato chips, juice, cordial, cakes and sweet biscuits frequent the snack boxes of small children a lot more frequently than they should. No longer are these foods an occasional party treat.

New research published by the University of Melbourne has confirmed what observation was suggesting. The study followed the diets of more than 450 infants until they reach 20 months of age. Not only were 1/3 of the children not meeting the dietary guidelines for key foods that supply important nutrients for growth and development including meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables but there was an incredibly high intake of ‘junk’ foods. Alarmingly by the time infants were just 18 months of age, 18% were eating hot chips, 27% sweet biscuits and 16% lollies and chocolates more than twice a week. It appears that these high fat and / or sugar and high calorie foods are no longer party foods, rather foods that parents routinely feed their children, even at this young age.

Struggle with the balance of a healthy lunchbox and one they will also actually eat? See Susie’s breakdown of what a well balanced lunchbox should look like here.

While there is always the argument that it is better for kids to get used to eating treats so they do not feel deprived, there is a major difference between treats being used as occasional treats, once or twice each week and these foods becoming part of the regular diet of small children, often in place of more nutritious food options. Contrary to popular opinion, small children do not need a lot of food, which means these treats quickly form the basis of their diets. At a time when young children are also learning about the types of foods that we need to eat to keep healthy on a daily basis, sending the message that these are everyday foods is setting them up for a lifetime of poor eating habits. In addition, programming the taste buds of small children to seek out exceptionally sweet and salty foods is again teaching them to seek out these flavours, flavours and tastes that will always be preferred over bland vegetables, grains and proteins.

At this point in time when more than ¼ of our children have weight issues, there is no sugar coating it. Parents have to get serious and stop feeding their kids so much crap. This also means that they too probably need to eat a lot less crap. We need to stop feeling like we need to constantly need to reward and treat our kids with poor quality food. Because ultimately it is only them who suffer.

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