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Monday 24 August 2015

Children's carb consumption blamed for rising obesity levels

"Empty" carbs such as white bread and cereal – not fats and sweets – should take the blame for rising childhood obesity, a new study suggests.

Auckland University of Technology health researchers have looked for the first time at the diets of school-age New Zealand Pasifika children and how this changes as they age. Young Pasifika kids have one of the highest rates of being overweight and obese.

One in four Pacific children, aged between 2 and 14, are obese, according to the Ministry of Health's latest New Zealand Health Survey.

But the study, of nearly 650 children at age 4 then 6, showed children rarely consumed the foods traditionally blamed for weight gain: sweets such as chocolate, and fats such as mayonnaise.

Instead, highly processed carbohydrates such as white bread, cereal and rice figured prominently in their diets, study co-author Faasisila Savila said. Bananas, apples and oranges, milk and meat were also among the most frequently eaten foods.

"A lot of them are high-energy foods, and in the most frequently eaten foods there are no vegetables. There is fruit, but in a lot of fruit, there's high sugar as well. Vegetables definitely need to start being represented in there."

The regularity with which snack foods such as crisps, noodles and powdered fruit drinks were consumed by the 4 and 6-year-olds was also a concern.

Savila said the results of the New Zealand Medical Journal-published study probably represented the diets of all the country's Pasifika school-age children. "Most Pacific children are in similar circumstances as the kids we investigated.

"Ideally we'd want to go back to early childhood and really look at food patterns then,  and even into adolescence and even much older age groups. We'd hope to link that to child growth rates."

Cottle Kindergarten teachers Melissa Ross and Carolyn Evans were not surprised by the frequent consumption of high-energy foods found in the survey.

The Upper Hutt kindergarten had been involved in a Heart Foundation healthy eating programme for several years. Replacing ultra-processed goods such as white bread with fresher, more natural food was one thing they encouraged among kids and families, Ross said.

"We've learned a lot about foods, what's good and what's not so good, such as the muesli bars and fruit strings. The most recent thing we've learned is about sugar."

Evans said, before the programme was introduced, she had seen processed foods becoming a more and more common sight in the children's lunchboxes.

"I think it's just because it's easier for families. We have both ends of the scale, those families that really consider what they put in and others where it's quick and easy, lots of packets."

The children had really responded to healthy eating ideas, from being told about food pyramids to growing and using produce from the kindy garden, Evans said. "They're recognising what fresh vegetables look like."



Anonymous said...

Good idea that more kids should be encouraged to grow vegetables, learn where and how they grow.

Bad idea all the cereals that so many eat. Not only in the morning but as a snack later in the day. A piece of fruit such as apple more beneficial.


Gail said...

And that is when good eating habits are childhood.

Gingi said...

Childhood obesity is a HUGE problem.. it's frightening, really... -

Anonymous said...

Good info. Obesity during childhood is very dangerous as they grow up. Now a days kids are very much interested to eat chips items than healthy foods. We as parents also buy and give them when they ask. We need to tell them the disadvantages of eating chips...

chris c said...

Good to see some sense filtering through to The Authorities. Savoury carbs were always my biggest downfall, ever since we started being told how "healthy" they were.
Yet in the US and I think also the UK I've heard of parents being censured and even fined for not giving their children enough carbs in their school lunches.

Lowcarb team member said...

Ben, I do think it a good idea for children to be involved in vegetable / fruit growing, herb growing etc, anything where they become accustomed to whole real food and not those in boxes!

Many thanks for taking time to comment.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Gail - we do need to encourage more healthy eating in childhood, and better awareness ... but some of the adults need to be encouraged too!

Many thanks for your comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Gingi - childhood obesity is very worrying and we need to keep it in the 'spotlight'... sugar is certainly in the spotlight at the moment and many people are becoming aware of the damage that eating too much can cause the body, teeth etc. It has such a 'knock on' effect that can affect our health and well-being.

Many thanks for your comment.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Weekend-Windup ... good to see you comment on this blog, thank you.
Glad to hear you found the information helpful. It is important to encourage everyone but especially the young to eat more healthily. It can be easy to swap the less healthy processed foods with the healthier whole real foods. Celeriac chips for instance instead of potato ones. Zucchini / courgette crisps instead of the many varieties that come in packets. There are some great alternative recipes around... many of which are on this blog!

Again many thanks for taking time to comment

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Chris - it is true that some parents have been fined for not providing the carb type snacks in their lunch-boxes. It sure can be a mad world BUT we go on spreading the good news and sense that a LCHF lifestyle can bring.
The grandchildren all eat a much lower carb template than many of their friends. Look too at Dr Jay Wortman's children or Diet Doctor Andreas Eenfeltd's children all of whom eat from a LCHF food template too.

Many thanks for your comment.

All the best Jan