Greetings! This month, the American Dietetic Association is running its National Nutrition Month® campaign. It is a public awareness program designed to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This objective is very much aligned with the focus of Littlestomaks because we are all about helping parents of toddlers make smart choices about their child’s nutrition and lifelong healthy eating habits. That is why I will be supporting this campaign by writing articles along this year’s theme of Nutrition From The Ground Up. I would like to call upon my fellow nutrition and food bloggers to do the same! I am also open to ideas if you want to collaborate!
It is Friday again, which means it is time for the usual Five for Fridays! Here are 5 nutrition related articles that caught my eye. Enjoy and do share your opinion in the comments below.
Link between childhood obesity and heart disease gains strength
30% of obese 3-5 year old children show higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is linked to inflammation and is known to predict heart disease and stroke. This is nearly twice the rate at which high levels of CRP are seen in children with healthy weight. This data is based on a recent study of 16,000 children between the ages of 1-17 published in the journal Pediatrics and cited in this week’s Wall Street Journal.
It does not mean that children who show high levels of CRP will definitely develop heart disease when they become adults. This is because CRP can be elevated due to a lot of other reasons. Still, this is a strong link between obesity and heart disease and suggests that early childhood obesity needs our immediate attention. The question I would like to get answered is if these high levels of CRP can be reversed in obese children if their weight is managed as they grow. If I find out, I will write about it!
Flooded by snacks, kids are becoming constant eaters
Kids get 27% of their daily calories from salty, fatty and sugary snacks and constant nibbling starts as early as 2! This is what a recent snacking study found from surveys of over 31,000 kids. Clearly, this is becoming a big challenge for most parents who are trying hard to encourage their kids to develop healthy eating habits. Availability of all kinds of snacks combined with our culture of bringing something to eat for every event means that kids are constantly munching.
I think the main problem is that there is no separation anymore between a regular meal and snacks – which are supposed to manage our hunger level between meals and not act as a substitute. To that end, it is important to drive an understanding – and acceptance – of this notion of separating meals from snacks at an early age. And of course, we as parents have to be a role model by consistently showing the desired behavior.
It is not about healthy snacks, although a lot of products claim to be just that. It is about healthy choices which kids should be empowered to make right from the start. If they recognize their hunger cues, and are in the habit of eating full, wholesome meals at regular times, I am sure they will be able to manage snacks on their own.
If you are facing this situation, check out these handy tips on managing snacks and treats by one of our experts.
Confused about which diet to pick? Get your genes checked!
We have all heard about low-carb and low-fat diets, and you have probably tried them all! If nothing seems to work, check out this new technology of a genetic test for diet. It may just point you to the right direction!
It is yet another weapon in our fight against overweight and obesity. Now you can find out if you are genetically predisposed to lose weight on a low carb diet or on a low fat diet. In a study of 133 overweight women, a substantially higher weight loss was reported when their diet was matched with their genetic predisposition. A separate study shows that 45% of white women have the low carb genotype while 39% have the low fat genotype. The test looks at variations in 3 genes known to affect metabolism of fat and carbohydrates.
Don’t run out to get this test yet because these results are far from conclusive. More research is needed especially with a larger group of men and women across different racial demographics. It is an important trend however, we are finally in the era of personalized medicine and nutrition!
FDA issues warning letters to rein in food labels
This week the FDA issued several warning letters to 18 food companies including high profile names such as Nestle, POM Wonderful and Beech-nut. The big guns are out to shoot down the front-of-box claims, which according to some, are getting out of control these days. There are some, including the prominent Marion Nestle, who are suggesting an outright ban on these front-of-box labels.
If you look closely at the reasons for most of these warning letters you will notice something interesting. FDA is complaining that labels like “low sodium”, “low fiber”, “plus vitamins and minerals” are not allowed on products intended for children 2 years or younger because appropriate dietary levels have not been established for children in this age range. Now whose fault is that? Clearly, inaction from the FDA has created a vacuum which is being filled by savvy marketers. It is also clear that there is a need for front-of-the box labels. Busy consumers do not have time to read and absorb the Nutrition Facts and ingredients list on the back or side panels. They want something quick that helps them decide whether they should buy a certain product or not.
The rest of the world is already moving ahead with standardizing front-of-box labels, an example of which is the traffic light food labeling system. There is no perfect answer, but we need something that works. I hope the FDA takes this on and not simply try to appear like they are doing something by issuing warning letters!
Big Words from Little Foodies
Finally a shout out for my blogger friend Jenna of KidAppeal, who is running a weekly column on her blog called Big Words from Little Foodies. She is inviting toddler parents to share mealtime funny comments they hear from their kids in response to the food on the table. We have had a lot of fun lately with our twins as we try to engage them with funny stories and watch their response! Check out stories from other parents and recipes they have shared as part of this column. We too have contributed to it with articles like diesel food for a diesel engine and eating salad like a giraffe! Share your stories of mealtime fun in comments below.
Enjoy and let me know what is on your mind.