A major study into Australian children's nutrition has discovered that the standard of children's diets…
Are Northern Beaches Kids Failing the Healthy Eating Test?
A major study into Australian children’s nutrition has discovered that the standard of children’s diets is falling, and according to a Brookvale speech pathologist, children of all ages are being affected.
Jolin Edmondson coordinates a popular feeding clinic for fussy eaters at Kids First Children’s Services in Brookvale and says that the results of a study recently published by Deakin University are not surprising.
“The study showed that up to 90 per cent of toddlers are regularly eating processed foods that are higher in fat and sugar than national guidelines recommend.”
“It also showed that the habits that children are picking up when they are babies stay with them as they get older, meaning that if eating a biscuit instead of a banana becomes the norm, their long- term health may be impacted.”
Jolin works frequently with children who have limited diets and says that it can be difficult for parents to find practical ways to introduce more fruit and vegetables into their children’s diet as they transition from milk or formula.
“The children we often see are problem eaters and, for them, it can be a real battle to try new tastes and textures. Their busy mums and dads find mealtimes stressful too and it certainly can be a lot easier to stick with fast food options they know their child will eat.”
Jolin says that some of the foods promoted as healthy options for children are part of the problem that time-poor parents face.
“A lot of parents use food pouches as a quick and easy alternative to whole foods, but these tend to be higher in calories and sugar compared to the real fruit or vegetable. They can also be lower in fibre, which our bodies need to help us feel full. So this can lead to children eating a lot of fructose in a short period of time, which over time can lead to childhood obesity.”
Jolin says that parents often add store bought cartons of pureed fruit to their children’s lunchboxes in the hope that they are boosting their child’s nutritional intake during the day.
“Purees are sweet and easy to eat, so it’s not surprising that children love them. It’s understandable that mums and dads want to make sure that their child is not going hungry and that money spent on food is not being wasted.”
“But purees can really limit children’s opportunities to develop their eating skills and awareness and knowledge about food.”
“Food that has been processed doesn’t allow children to develop their oral motor skills sufficiently because when they consume a food pouch, they suck instead of chewing.”
“We know that many children who regularly consume food pouches can become picky with their food later on because they haven’t had as much opportunity to try different textures and to interact with the food they’re eating.”
Jolin advises parents to give their children the chance to explore new foods so that they can get used to new tastes and textures.
“Just as children need lots of practice in order to learn to walk and talk, they also need to be exposed to new foods over and over again so that they can practice their eating skills.”
“Practice makes perfect, and it’s worth taking the extra time to give children the chance to see, smell, touch and taste whole foods when they are little so that their chances of becoming fussy eaters are reduced.”