Five For Fridays – Mar 13, 2009

by Naveen Agarwal

in Five For Fridays

5-for-fridays-image4-mar13

Daylight savings time is here! Summer cannot be that far away, right? Enjoy another set of noteworthy nutrition-related articles from this week.

Calories from sugary drinks add up to more than what’s on the label

Sugary drinks such as regular soda and concentrated fruit juices provide “empty” calories without much nutritional value. We all know that. Well, a new understanding is now emerging which suggests that when you consume a sugary drink, it does nothing to change your appetite and you don’t compensate it by eating less food. In another insightful analysis of several recent studies, Dr Ayala makes a point that soda drinkers end up consuming more calories since these drinks do not satisfy their hunger even if they might temporarily quench their thirst. Turns out, even candy eaters consume less food and calories compared to soda drinkers! It does not mean that you should let your kids eat candies the whole day; it just makes a point that solid foods are more effective at making you feel full. When it comes to snacking,  there is definitely a smarter way.

Taking your toddler grocery shopping? Watch that shopping cart

This report reminds us again of the many dangers of carrying toddlers in a shopping cart while shopping. Head injury is most common with kids falling out of carts head first on the floor, sidewalks or parking lots. Shopping carts in many stores are in very poor shape and, most importantly, several safety features are regularly missing. According to this report, 2 out of 5 carts were found unsafe at Toys ‘R Us and 13 out of 30 at WalMart and, surprisingly, none at Target! Not sure if this is true at other stores of these companies in different parts of the country.

I think these types of risks to small children exist everywhere, not just while shopping. As a parent, it is very challenging to keep a close eye on your little ones, especially when you are in a hurry or distracted. There are several very good suggestions in this report for child safety while shopping. Check it out, and if you have any tips of your own, feel free to share a comment!

Feed with love and respect; respond with sensitivity

I really enjoyed reading this post from a Mom of a 2 year old as she tried to figure out why her toddler threw a fit when offered a fish meal at dinner. Being a vegetarian herself, she was already hesitant to introduce any meat, but the idea of nutritious omega acids was compelling enough for her to try. It didn’t turn out as planned and the child refused to eat anything as long as even a small bit of fish was on his plate. Eventually, she decided not to force her child and wait for another time before trying again.

This is a great example of feeding with love and respect and really “listening” to your child. In her guest post Attachment Parenting and Toddler Nutrition, Annie introduced us to this idea. We have been trying it with our twins for quite sometime now and it seems to be working well since they are beginning to develop a taste for different types of foods. And we don’t have to battle with them at mealtimes. The situation is not perfect by any means, but we are are happy so far.

Does it mean that you should let your child eat whatever he wants whenever he wants? Clearly no, but there is no use getting into a power struggle in the moment. You can correct undesirable habits (candy, junk foods etc) slowly by setting an example yourself and then by positive reinforcement when he makes more desirable choices.

First lady on a mission to promote healthful eating for the masses

In her public appearances, Mrs. Obama is emphasizing the need for fresh, nutritious food “not just for the wealthy, but for the ordinary and struggling families” all across our nation. Her message could not be more timely – the waistline of our nation is getting wider and childhood obesity, especially among the underpreviliged segments of our society, is on the rise. I came across this article in the New York Times, and was immediately impressed by Mrs Obama’s walking-the-talk approach to healthful nutrition. And she is very pragmatic – there is no harm in an occasional indulgence in fast food. It becomes a problem if it happens to be the only source of daily nutrition. Will this attitude reflect into policy? Only time will tell.

1 in 7 teens is vitamin D deficient

A new study by researchers in the Cornell Medical College finds “alramingly” high rates of vitamin D deficiency among teens, particularly among the African-American population. Girls had more than twice the rates of deficiency compared to boys. Overweight teens also had nearly double the rates of their normal weight counterparts. The researchers used a “revised” criteria for vitamin deficiency, which raised the minimum level from 11 to 20 ng/ml in a blood test.

To me, this is not news anymore! We keep hearing of vitamin D deficiency in various reports which raise the alarm bells about the risk of rickets in children and a host of other diseases in adults. I do not understand the purpose behind these reports,  which do not really propose anything new about how to solve this problem. Everyone knows that you need a balanced diet and sun exposure to build the vitamin D reserves. It is also commonly know that most kids today are growing up with not-so-healthy eating habits and child obesity is on the rise. So what should we be doing? Should there be a policy change? Should the pediatricians start recommending a daily dose of nutritional supplements? There is always that magic line in these reports: “more research is needed”! I say, stop this charade and come out with some new ideas!

As for the risk of rickets, I am yet to find any evidence of a rise in the number of reported cases nationwide. From what I understand, bone growth is quite complex and vitamin D is only one piece of the puzzle. Just because we measure low levels of vitamin D in blood tests (compared to pretty arbitrary standard anyway), we should not ring the alarm bells about rickets!

I have nothing against vitamin D. In fact, I have tackled this subject in this post about rising rates of vitamin D deficiency in kids. I am also not against supplements since I have written about reasons when you might consider a daily multivitamin for your kids. What I have a problem with is report after report of “scientific” studies saying the same thing without leading to any substantial progress in finding a solution. I am so much waiting to read a different kind of a report in future.

Enjoy your weekend!

Image source: orangeacid on Flickr
©2009 Littlestomaks.com

Be Sociable, Share!
  • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

    Great post!

    You’re brave to tackle the vitamin D issue. I am both intrigued and confused by the proliferation of studies finding low vitamin D in practically every disease process, from cancer to heart disease to obesity.

    The questions are:

    1. Is the low vitamin D a part of the cause of the disease, or a manifestation of an unhealthy state, i.e. just a marker of disease. It would be similar to blaming a fever for the inflammation of the ear or lungs during an infectious disease. Vitamin D metabolism is complicated, therefore low vitamin D can be a result of both unhealthy lifestyle (engaging in less physical activity, which could be related to less sun exposure and eating an unhealthy diet), but also a sign that some of the many body systems (skin, kidney, liver) that participate in vitamin D production aren’t functioning well.

    2. Can supplementation with vitamin D improve those conditions associated with low vitamin D? This question needs to be addressed in a large randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation. Other vitamins were thought to be protective against disease and trails proved that not to be the case.

    At this point, all we know is that low vitamin D has been correlated with many states of disease. We don’t know it’s a cause. We don’t know if supplementation will lead to a better outcome.

    That’s for sure Vitamin D is a hot topic!

  • http://herbalwater.typepad.com/ Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.

    Great post!

    You’re brave to tackle the vitamin D issue. I am both intrigued and confused by the proliferation of studies finding low vitamin D in practically every disease process, from cancer to heart disease to obesity.

    The questions are:

    1. Is the low vitamin D a part of the cause of the disease, or a manifestation of an unhealthy state, i.e. just a marker of disease. It would be similar to blaming a fever for the inflammation of the ear or lungs during an infectious disease. Vitamin D metabolism is complicated, therefore low vitamin D can be a result of both unhealthy lifestyle (engaging in less physical activity, which could be related to less sun exposure and eating an unhealthy diet), but also a sign that some of the many body systems (skin, kidney, liver) that participate in vitamin D production aren’t functioning well.

    2. Can supplementation with vitamin D improve those conditions associated with low vitamin D? This question needs to be addressed in a large randomized clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation. Other vitamins were thought to be protective against disease and trails proved that not to be the case.

    At this point, all we know is that low vitamin D has been correlated with many states of disease. We don’t know it’s a cause. We don’t know if supplementation will lead to a better outcome.

    That’s for sure Vitamin D is a hot topic!

Previous post:

Next post: