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Regrets for Our Youth
A new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research shed some light on the eating habits of children and toddlers in the state of California. And, although the results can be used for good, the stats themselves are frightening enough to have nutritious pioneer Jamie Oliver committing a slow harakari in the streets.
The policy brief, authored by the Public Health Institute’s lead researcher, Susan Holtby, states that most of California’s youth are eating fast food way too regularly. In fact, 60 percent of all children between the ages of 2 and 5 had eaten fast food at least once in the previous week. And, the percentage is even higher for low-income households and Latino children in particular.
Worse still, there aren’t enough healthy foods going into the kids’ diets to counteract the harmful effects of fried and processed happy meals. A mere 57 percent of parents reported that their children met the daily recommended dietary intake of fruits and vegetables.
“A weekly happy meal is an unhappy solution, especially for toddlers,” said Holtby, “Hard-working, busy parents need support to make healthy food selections for their kids.”
According to an article published on ScienceDaily.com, “The new study used data from several cycles of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) to examine dietary behaviors of very young children, including their consumption of fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and vegetables, and to gauge how much influence parents have over what their children eat. The study’s authors found that in both 2007 and 2009, about two-thirds of children between the ages of 2 and 5 ate at least one fast food meal during the previous week, and 29 percent ate two or more. About 10 percent of children in this age group ate three or more fast food meals the previous week.”
“Simple messages and programs can reinforce what every parent wants—the good health of their children,” said Camille Maben, executive director of First 5 California, which funded the study. “This shows there is more work to be done to reach families with the critical education and support they need.”
So, what’s the upside? Studies like this highlight trouble spots, and identify where nutrition education campaigns are needed most. In the meantime, Holtby suggests that parents swap their children’s fruit juice for actual pieces of fruit as a quick fix for boosting fiber and other essential nutrients.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.