Willows Pediatrics. We advocate a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy and whole grains. And while we know that some parents purchase organic fruits, vegetables and meats for their families, we recently learned that organic food is not a nutritionally essential part of a child’s diet.
A new AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) clinical report found that while there are certain benefits to consuming organic products—most significantly the absence of pesticides—these foods are not more nutritious than regular produce. This is the first time the AAP has spoken on this issue.
Here’s what the report concluded:
While organic foods have the same vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, lipids and other nutrients as conventional foods, they also have lower pesticide levels, which may be significant for children. Organically raised animals are also less likely to be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria because organic farming rules prohibit the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.
Regarding the impact of pesticides on children, the AAP said it was unable to make a definitive statement:
“At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children–especially young children whose brains are developing–are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures,” said Joel Forman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health and one of the lead authors of the AAP clinical report.
At Willows we suggest that if you are on a budget, you may want to invest in certain organic products. Some fruits and veggies like avocado and grapefruit have lower pesticide residues than others. For a list of the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” visit the Environmental Working Group’s website.
The AAP recommends additional studies in this area. “Pediatricians want families to have the information they need to make wise food choices,” said Dr. Forman.
So, in the meantime, as you make food choices for your family, keep in mind that the key to a healthy diet is consuming lots and lots of fruits and vegetables. Consider investing in organic versions of some of the most pesticide-laden items like apples and grapes, and remember that variety is the key.
Have a healthy holiday season, and we look forward to seeing you in our offices!