Did you sit down with your kids last night for dinner? If so, and if family meals are relatively normal in your house, that’s likely a good thing when it comes to your kids eating habits, suggests a new study published in Pediatrics.
The study pooled data from 17 previous studies investigating family meals and nutrition, totaling approximately 183,000 children. Average ages ranged from 3 to 17.
After analysis, the authors found that children and adolescents who ate with their family three or more times per week were more likely to be in a normal weight range and eat healthier – including eating fruits, vegetables and breakfast – than kids who shared fewer than 3 family meals together. Staying a healthy weight — and eating a healthy diet – are both important for cancer prevention.
Children and adolescents who ate with their families regularly were 12 percent less likely to be overweight and 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods compared to the kids who ate with their families fewer than three times weekly. Youths who eat regularly with their family are also less likely to take diet pills, use diuretics, fast and engage in other disordered eating habits.
The study is featured in yesterday’s issue of Cancer Research Update, which also highlighted new research on how red peppers may help curb our appetite. You can look at the whole issue here.
There are plenty of possible reasons why having family meals together can influence healthy eating habits and weight. The authors suggest that family meals allow times when parents can recognize early signs of unhealthy eating habits and then take steps to prevent it. What do you think?
Is it a good idea to add sugar to milk to encourage more children to drink it?
Or is chocolate milk just another sugary beverage that will add unnecessary calories to kids’ diets?
If you follow health news at all, you’ve probably noticed this nutrition controversy getting a lot of news coverage. Here’s one story.
Here’s what we know:
Milk contains significant amounts of calcium and is fortified with vitamin D, important for children’s bone development and growth. Milk consumption has decreased significantly in the United States, by about 1/3 since 1968.
Chocolate milk contains added sugars and therefore more calories that can lead to more overweight and obesity. In the United States, 1/3 of children are already overweight and obese and at higher risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Calories in 1 cup milk:
1% white milk = 102
1% chocolate milk = 158
Fat-free chocolate milk = 130
The concern with removing chocolate milk from schools is that children will drink less milk.
What’s the evidence?
I couldn’t find much.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2006 New York City public schools began switching from whole milk to lowfat and fat free milk. The milk industry warned that student demand for milk would decrease. Although it did initially decrease, by 2009 children actually did drink more milk than in 2006.
According to one study (poster presentation report here) however, removing chocolate milk from schools did lead to a decrease in children choosing milk. This study was funded by the Milk Processor Education Program.
What do you think? Should chocolate milk be served in schools? Or is it adding too many calories and sugar to children’s diets?
In yesterday’s blog, Mya wrote about the growing problem of type 2 diabetes in the United States and the link to cancer risk and to many other serious health disorders.
And you may have seen news reports about how doctors are finding type 2 diabetes in children – everyday more than 10 Americans under age 20 are diagnosed with this disease. Ten years ago type 2 diabetes in this age group was extremely rare.
Adults and children who are overweight or obese, have a family history of type 2 diabetes and are inactive are at high risk for the disease.
There’s no one answer that will solve this problem, but here’s an idea that is timely and can get children active and interested in healthy eating.
Try growing some vegetables or herbs and do it with a child or young person. About 1/3 of Americans who garden say one reason they do is to teach kids about gardening.
You don’t have to grow a garden as large as the White House garden (they grow over 30 varieties of vegetables) – you don’t even need a “garden.” Most Americans have a small growing space.
Kids (and adults) love to dig in the dirt, watch plants grow, harvest and eat the crop. Two for one – a little physical activity and interest in vegetables!
For step by step information on how to get started, visit The Taste Buddies, our website for children.
So far, I’ve planted lettuce (it’s up already!) in a window box and spinach in a large clay pot.
Let us know what you’re planting this year!