Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Just Say No: Low Fat Diets are Not for Children

With childhood obesity levels climbing at an alarming rate, it's no wonder parents are more concerned than ever about what their children are eating. Adults are constantly bombarded with the latest diet foods and weight loss pills, and in a world that's so weight-conscious, it's difficult not to translate these ideas into the way we deal with our children's health. Although we want our children to be healthy, diet fads are not the answer. This includes the standard low-fat diet, which is suspiciously ineffective for adults in the long-term, and downright dangerous for our children. In 2007, a study from the University of Delaware was published in the Nutrition Journal which showed children and adults burn about the same amount of fat each day, even though children burn much less overall energy. Children need a diet higher in fat compared to adults. They need around 5-10% more calories from fat than adults do. This is because, even though children are smaller in size, their bodies use an enormous amount of energy in support of growth and development. This includes the development of the nervous system, immune system, bone structure and muscle tissue. Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum states, "I think this research is absolutely right. If the word 'diet' is written on a packet or can, it really shouldn't be given to children who have totally different energy needs for their growth, and who burn off a lot of energy just by growing. Fad diets are not appropriate for children." This information is not widely displayed in the media, where low-fat diet foods are frequently praised in both regular programming and commercial advertisements. There are even many medical professionals who give the vague recommendation of eating as little fat as possible. With parents constantly hearing that dietary fat is bad and should be avoided, it's easy to think that this must be healthy for their children, too. This misinformation is no less than destructive to our children's health. Children's bodies require fat to develop and function properly. Without a certain amount of fat present, fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K can't be stored or utilized. These vitamins are absolutely crucial for developmental growth in our children; any long-term deficiency can have lifelong effects. A committee from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force reported that low-fat diets can cause growth retardation and thwart the natural process of puberty. Children simply can't gain enough weight or linear height on these diets. In a society where so many adults are obsessed with the numbers on a scale, it can be difficult to view weight gain as a good thing. But in children, a certain amount of weight must be gained to develop properly. In addition, there are certain periods of growth, such as adolescence, when it is normal for a child to store extra fat. This is when many parents and teens become frightened of obesity and start the low-fat diet bandwagon that, for some, may become a lifetime battle. By distorting a child's image of food early in life, we may be paving the way for future eating disorders like anorexia. Part of rearing healthy children is helping them form a positive relationship with food. Natural, unprocessed fats are not a food to be shunned but something that can be highly beneficial if used in moderation. The same applies to carbohydrates and proteins. We don't want to severely limit or overindulge in these types of food, either. The goal is to strive for moderation while making healthy, natural choices. Children need to learn that quality foods are to be enjoyed not only for their taste but also because these foods are necessary for life. Source - www.naturalnews.com

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