Dietary Habits Develop Early

In the October 27, 2003 online issue of the InteliHealth Health News comes the report on a study that shows that children’s eating habits can start as early as age 2. The “Feeding Infants & Toddlers Study”, commissioned by baby-food maker Gerber Products Company showed that, “By 24 months, patterns look startlingly similar to some of the problematic American dietary patterns.” The article noted that recent research has found that roughly one in every five Americans is now considered obese, double the rate in the mid-1980s.

The study was conducted by random telephone interviews in 2002 that asked parents or primary caregivers what their youngsters ages 4 months to 2 years ate on that particular day. Up to a third of the children under 2 consumed no fruits or vegetables, according to the survey. And for those who did have a vegetable, French fries were the most common selection for children 15 months and older. Additionally, Thirty to 40 percent of the children 15 months and up had a sugary fruit drink each day, and about 10 percent had soda.

A Chicago-area dietitian, Jodie Shield, who has written two books on child nutrition, noted “If kids are having soda and soft drinks at such an early age, it’s going to be very, very challenging to introduce other types of foods for them later”.

The article stated that children aged 1 to 2 years require about 950 calories per day, but the study found that the median intake for that age group is 1,220 calories, — an excess of nearly 30 percent. For those 7 months to 11 months old, the daily caloric surplus was about 20 percent.

In my opinion, parents who feed their children an unhealthy diet should be charged with child abuse. Yes, I said child abuse. Many times, children are the innocent victims of their parents unhealthy lifestyle habits. A child is too naive to know that McDonald’s chicken nuggets and fries are unhealthy. They trust that it’s “Ok” because their parents are giving it to them. If you raise your kids on fast food and a diet rich in sugar, it is highly likely they will continue to follow this eating pattern throughout adulthood and succumb to one or many of the illnesses or diseases associated with such a diet such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. It’s never too early to teach your children the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle. They will thank you for it later in life.

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