Parents are very careful about what they feed their children up till the age of two. After that, they start exploring more food options. Children are exposed to and develop a taste for junk food like french fries, pizzas, burgers, aerated drinks and chips. Doctors and nutritionists advise parents to build healthy eating habits in children, and now, healthcare experts in Pune have come out with a book called Good Food for Kids — A Scientific Guide to your Child’s Nutrition, which will be released on Sunday.
Dr Umesh Vaidya, in-charge of the neonatal intensive care unit at the department of paediatrics, KEM hospital, said that a better understanding of junk food can help parents make a conscious decision about building healthy eating habits in children.
“Over the past few years, fast food like pizzas, burgers, rolls, wraps, vada pav, samosa, chips and soft drinks have spread to every corner of the country. Such food is served everywhere from restaurants, food malls and roadside shops to offices and canteens. But have you ever wondered why these foods are called ‘junk food’?” Dr Vaidya asked. “Junk food is ‘calorie-dense’ but ‘nutrient-poor’. Children who eat a lot of junk food may develop deficiencies of vital nutrients leading to weakness, low energy, fragile bones and sleep disturbances, among other health conditions,” he added.
The book Good Food for Kids has been jointly written by Vaidya, Krisha Krishnani, who is a parenting expert, and a team of doctors and nutritionists. Written in a simple language, it addresses the “basics of nutrition” to topics like “food habits in adolescents”.
“We have also provided 120 recipes, which are age-appropriate, easy to prepare and will strike a chord with children because of their great taste,” said Krishnani.
Nutritionists pointed out that the consequences of junk food on health are detrimental, irrespective of whether such food items are consumed occasionally or regularly. “Consumption of junk food can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart diseases, nutrient deficiencies, impaired digestion and oral health, depression, poor academic performance and addiction to junk food. Children who eat junk food consume extra calories, fats, processed sugars and less fiber. ‘Attractive combo meal’ of a burger, french fries and a coke provides as much as 1,000 calories and 40 grams of fat. Even if such food is consumed once a week, it may lead to 4-5 kilos of weight gain per year,” said Dr Vaidya.
“Once children step out of home, they are bound to get exposed to these junk foods. It is impossible for any parent to protect children from junk food completely,” he said, adding that one can go for healthier alternatives when dining out or preparing food at home. “We have provided several recipes and information about how, instead of buying aerated drinks, it was healthier to opt for buttermilk and juices. With so much information online, it can get confusing, especially regarding the authenticity of the information,” Krishnani added.