Parents will always do their best to keep their children safe, but there are some who unwittingly sacrifice their children’s health by allowing them to eat potentially harmful junk food without thinking about the consequences. Dr. Joseph Mercola warns that children’s preferences for salt, sugar and fat in foods are a result of what they’re fed.
USA Today says, “Parents need to carefully consider the types of foods they give to young children at home and in restaurants … Repeated exposure builds taste preferences.”
The Alarming Truth about American Children’s Diets
According to British chef and food advocate Jamie Oliver, our food culture has changed so drastically over the last 30 years. He says that the majority of children today don’t know what fresh, whole foods are. He illustrates how the three aspects of the “food landscape”—home, school, and main street—have all abandoned real food in favor of quick, cheap, processed foods.
A recent study revealed that junk food constitutes almost half of the calories ingested by average two to 18-year-old Americans. The sources of empty calories included:
- Fruit drinks
- Dairy desserts like ice cream
- Grain desserts (cake, cookies, and doughnuts)
- Whole milk
Dr. Mercola says that this type of diet is the reason why many children in the U.S. and other parts of the world are undernourished.
Soda and Junk Food Affects Children’s Food Choices
One factor that affects children’s food preference is brand awareness. Researchers observed the link between the taste preferences of more than 100 preschool children and their emerging awareness of fast food and sugary drink brands. All of the children were able to pair at least some products with the companies that produced them.
“Children who were exposed to junk food, soda, and fast food — via advertising and also because their parents fed them these foods — learned to recognize and prefer these foods over healthier choices,” says Dr. Mercola.
Junk Food Also Affects Children’s IQ levels
A separate study discovered that children who consume large amounts of processed foods, fat, and sugar at the age of three have a lower IQ when they turn 8 ½ years old. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/07/diet-children-iq)
“Every one-point increase in the study’s dietary pattern score – a record of processed fat intake – was associated with a 1.67-point fall in IQ,” The Guardian reports.
On the other hand, children with healthier diets have higher IQ levels. For every measured increase in dietary score—meaning the child eats more fruits and vegetables—a 1.2-point increase in IQ was seen.
Parents are Responsible for Their Children’s Healthy Diet
Children will not know which foods are healthy unless you, as a parent, educate them. Learn more about proper nutrition and the dangers of junk food and processed foods, so you can change the food culture of your entire family. Lead by example, so your child will have the best start in life and develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Dr. Mercola recommends reading his nutrition plan, which will be the foundation of healthy food choices for your family. He advises cooking meals at home instead of buying processed, ready-to-eat food from restaurants and fast food chains.
Use whole foods when preparing meals. These are foods that have not been altered or processed from their original state. Whole foods have been grown or raised as nature intended, without chemical additives, pesticides, and fertilizers.
Dr. Mercola also advises taking probiotics. Processed foods and junk foods increase bad bacteria, leading to poor gut health. Probiotics replenishes the good bacteria in your digestive system and maintains the ideal ratio between good and bad bacteria.* For children who dislike taking pills, taking a probiotic supplement in powder form is the best option.