Do you know what your kids eat? According to ABC News, nearly half of the food kids eat is junk - unhealthy food with little or no nutritional value.
Researchers studied data from a national survey, and found that 40 percent of the calories consumed by kids are what’s called “empty calories.” They have the same amount of energy as other calories, but without the nutrients – like minerals, vitamins, fiber, and amino acids. Half of all empty calories come from just six foods:
- Sugary fruit drinks
- Grain desserts - like cake and cookies
- Dairy desserts – like ice cream
- and whole milk – which is a lot fattier than skim milk
Connie Diekman is the director of nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis. She says she’s amazed by how many kids – and parents - don’t know the nutritional value of food or what they ought to be eating. Since eating is a learned behavior, kids eat what their parents eat. If busy parents toss a frozen pizza in the oven, that’s a bad meal that also sends a bad message.
So, what could help? Experts say nutrition should be taught to moms and dads starting in prenatal classes, and the subject should be right up there with reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. Schools should be required to teach children what food to eat for the best nutrition, and what foods to avoid in order to stay healthy and at an ideal weight. In fact, the earlier the better – preferably during the elementary school years, because by the time kids hit high school the damage has been done, and the bad habits are often locked in for life. Here’s what you can do: