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Wednesday, July 16th, 2014
Consider it an old wives’ tale that kids turn their noses up at fruits and veggies. The Centers for Disease Control just released the results of a health survey, that shows that more than 75 percent of kids eat fruit daily, while a whopping 92 percent got at least one helping of veggies every day.
While those results are a sign that kids at least get some plant-based nutrients in their diet, the study didn’t assess how many servings of each kids received (children should get at least a cup of each per day, and a variety), and also didn’t differentiate highly between veggies. (Meaning that it’s likely that at least some of that veggie consumption came in the form of the kid favorite, French fries.)
The study also found that younger kids (between ages 2 and 5) often ate more fruit than teens (only 6 of 10 teens ate fruit, compared to 90 percent of preschoolers). The numbers were closer for veggies (is it the fry factor?): 93 percent of kids ages 2 to 11 ate veggies, while 90 percent of teens did.
While more study needs to be done to determine if kids are reaching their recommended daily intake of fruits and veggies, doctors recommend upping kids’ portions by making all snacks fruits and veggies, and including produce at every meal.
Tell us: How do you do at giving you and your child the recommended daily allowances of fruits and veggies? Find out if you’re feeding your toddler right with our quiz.
Image: girl with oranges by gorillaimages/Shutterstock.com
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014
Some breakfast cereals that are overly fortified with nutrients like vitamin A, zinc, and niacin may actually pose health risks to children because the foods are fortified to provide an adult’s recommended intake of those nutrients. These are the findings of a report by the Environmental Working Group, a health advocacy organization that says millions of American children are eating overly fortified cereals every day. Part of the problem, the group says, is that nutrition labels are not age-specific–and higher nutrient levels on cereal packages may actually sway parents’ purchasing decisions because they think the products are healthier for their kids.
More from USA Today:
Only “a tiny, tiny percentage” of cereal packages carry nutrition labels that list age-specific daily values, Sharp says. “That’s misleading to parents and is contributing to the problem.”
The daily values for most vitamins and minerals that appear on nutrition facts labels were set by the FDA in 1968 and haven’t updated, she says, making them “wildly out-of-sync” with currently recommended levels deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.
Getting adequate amounts of all three nutrients is needed to maintain health and prevent disease, but the report says that routinely ingesting too much vitamin A can, over time, lead to health issues such as liver damage and skeletal abnormalities. . High zinc intakes can impair copper absorption and negatively affect red and white blood cells and immune function, and consuming too much niacin can cause short-term symptoms such as rash, nausea and vomiting, the report says.
Image: Cereal bowl with milk, via Shutterstock
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Monday, June 9th, 2014
Young kids start recognizing foods according to brand names between ages 3 and 4, a new Irish study has found–and their brand recognition is higher among unhealthy foods. Reuters has more:
Food-brand knowledge predicts what kids will ask for later, said lead author Mimi Tatlow-Golden of the School of Psychology at University College Dublin.
The study included 172 children in Ireland, ages three to five years old, a quarter of whom were from Northern Ireland, where marketing regulations differ from the rest of the country.
Just over half of the kids attended school in a disadvantaged community, according to local government and education department data.
Parents filled out questionnaires about family demographics, eating habits and children’s TV viewing alone and with others.
Researchers surveyed the kids at school one at a time, showing them nine food brand logos and product images, four belonging to healthy foods and five to less healthy foods, all of which are widely advertised in Ireland.
The researchers first asked kids if they knew the brand name of a food based on the logo, then if they knew what kind of food it was, then if they could match the brand logo to a picture of the correct food product.
Kids’ scores on the brand questions rose for all types of foods between ages three and five, the authors report in the journal Appetite. On average, kids could name about a third of the brands, name the product type of half the brands and correctly match the images of almost two-thirds of the brands.
At all ages, kids were better at recognizing the less healthy foods. Their knowledge of unhealthy foods was most strongly predicted by how much unhealthy food their parents ate, and was not predicted by TV time or their mother’s education level, the researchers found.
“We definitely couldn’t conclude that marketing doesn’t work, we just need to look beyond TV,” Sandra Jones, director of the Center for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong in Australia, told Reuters Health.
Some of the healthy brands in the study, like Frube flavored yogurt in a tube and Cheestring string cheese, only refer to one specific food product, whereas the unhealthy brands, which included Cadbury’s, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, produce a wide range of products, she noted. This could have skewed the results, said Jones, who was not involved in the research.
Image: Boy eating candy, via Shutterstock
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Monday, May 19th, 2014
Connecticut legislators have sent to the governor a measure that would prohibit public schools from offering chocolate milk and some juices to children, citing the beverages’ links to imbalanced nutrition when it comes to fat, salt, and sugar. More from CBS News:
If he signs it, Connecticut would be the first state in the country — not just a single school district –to ban chocolate milk in school cafeterias. The law would go into effect next September.
Politicians in the state faced pressure to pass school nutrition rules or risk forfeiting funds from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a federal policy that sets requirements for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Programs, which includes its school lunch program. However, the USDA points out that the Act does not ban individual food items. A USDA spokesperson told CBS News that it does require flavored milks to be non-fat.
Under the state proposal, schools in Connecticut would only be allowed to serve low-fat, unflavored milk and beverages without artificial sweeteners, added sodium or more than four grams of sugar per ounce.
Chocolate milk contains high fructose corn syrup and up to 200 milligrams of sodium, which means it won’t make the cut.
Some child nutritionists think the proposed law will backfire and jeopardize the health of children in the state. Jill Castle, a registered dietician and nutritionist from New Canaan, Conn., told CBS affiliate WFSB that when chocolate milk is removed from the cafeteria the overall consumption of milk goes down.
“From a nutrient profile, you’re getting calcium, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorous, protein, and other nutrients,” said Castle.
But some food experts disagree. Marlene Schwartz, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, says the ban means that the food industry will simply need to adjust.
“This isn’t going to keep out flavored milk,” Schwartz told the Hartford Courant. “All it’s going to do it make sure the flavored milk that’s in there is not going to have added salt.”
Make mornings easier with our Healthy Breakfast On-The-Go guide.
Image: Chocolate milk, via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 16th, 2014
The cereal aisle is often the site of parent-child debates over colorful, sugar-laden brands. But parents may be surprised to learn that “sugary” doesn’t really describe a number of options–the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has analyzed more than 1,500 breakfast cereals and identified a dozen that contain more than 50 percent sugar by weight. Children’s cereals contain the highest percentage of sugar as a group–34 percent–and many of the worst offenders are actually store brands, the group found. EWG also estimates that American kids will consume 10 pounds of sugar each year at the breakfast table.
Here is the EWG’s “Hall of Shame” list of the worst offenders. A single serving of these cereals represents at least half of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar limit for kids:
- Kellogg’s Honey Smacks (56% sugar by weight)
- Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs (56%)
- Mom’s Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat (56%)
- Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch with Marshmallows (53%)
- Post Golden Crisp (52%)
- Grace Instant Green Banana Porridge (51%)
- Blanchard & Blanchard Granola (51%)
- Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes (88%)
- Lieber’s Honey Ringee Os (67%)
- Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs (56%)
- Krasdale Fruity Circles (53%)
- Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles (53%)
Running just behind the top 12 are Apple Jacks with Marshmallows (50%), and Froot Loops with Marshmallows (48%), both of which are produced by Kellogg’s.
For less sugary options, the EWG identifed these 10 brands as having the least amount of sugar per serving:
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, Gluten-Free (1g)
- General Mills Cheerios (1g)
- Post 123 Sesame Street, C Is For Cereal (1g)
- Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (3g)
- Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (4g)
- Kellogg’s Crispix Cereal (4g)
- Springfield Corn Flakes Cereal (2g)
- Valu Time Crisp Rice Cereal (3g)
- Roundy’s Crispy Rice (4g)
- Shop Rite Scrunchy Crispy Rice (4g)
The EWG recommends that parents read the Nutrition Facts labels carefully and choose cereals with the lowest sugar content. “Look for cereals that are low-sugar [no more than a teaspoon (4 grams) per serving] or moderately sweetened [less than 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) per serving],” the report recommends. Better yet, it suggests, prepare breakfast from scratch, using whole grains like quick-cooking oatmeal and real fruits like bananas.
Earlier this week, Kellogg Co announced plans to drop “All Natural” and “100 Percent Natural” labels from some of its Kashi and Bear Naked products in response to a lawsuit that alleged fraudulent use of those terms.
Click here for more healthy breakfasts on-the-go inspiration!
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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American Heart Association, breakfast, cereal, Cheerios, Environmental Working Group, General Mills, Kellogg, nutrition, Post, store brands, sugar | Categories:
Child Health, Must Read