What people eat and drink have an impact on their health. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recently released their updated reference, “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025”. Reflecting the current body of nutrition science, the guidelines examine the relationship between diet and health across all life stages, from infancy to older adulthood. The goal of the guidelines is to inform, based on evidence from scientific studies, how eating healthier can help reduce the risk of diet-related chronic disease including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The full version of the guidelines can be found here. The guidelines cover areas that parents frequently have questions on or are concerned about. Some of these areas include:
Birth to 23 months:
- Introducing infants to nutrient-dense complementary foods at about 6 months of age
- Assessing readiness for beginning to eat solid foods
- Introducing infants to potentially allergenic foods
- Establishing a healthy diet for toddlers including recommended intake ranges of various food groups
Children and Adolescents age 2-18 years:
- Tables showing recommend food group intake ranges broken down by age
- Ages 2 through 4 years
- Ages 5 through 8 years
- Ages 9 through 13 years
- Ages 14 through 18 years
- Offering nutrient-dense foods and beverages at an early age to help children develop and maintain healthy dietary patterns
While food choice is only one part of staying healthy, this report is a welcome addition to the body of knowledge that is available in terms of approaching nutrition from infancy to young adulthood.
As we head into the fall season, many parents are asking what they can do to keep their children as healthy as possible. With families needing to adjust work and school schedules, many familiar routines have changed, including meal time. Healthy nutrition has always been vital to the well being of children and adolescents, and even more so as families are spending more time at home, often in front of screens, and for many, managing a reduction in activities outside the home.
Abby Greenspun, RD, our nutritionist, was recently interviewed by Fox61 and offered her suggestions on how to encourage healthy eating habits during this time.
Some of the tips Abby offers include:
Brightly colored foods are often more appealing – “eating the rainbow” in particular bright colored fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
Fresh foods are preferred over processed, packaged foods.
Whole wheat pasta has all three layers of the wheat kernel: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm, which gives it an edge over white pasta when it comes to fiber and micronutrients.
Overall, Abby recommends keeping your family food options simple, colorful, and fresh. To hear Abby’s interview, please click here.
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.
A baby’s first tooth is something that most parents will always remember! From the way it changes that cute smile to the teething issues it causes, the eruption of a tooth is a pretty big deal. Yet, with all of the other things parents and caregivers must do to care for a baby or toddler, those tiny teeth are often neglected … sometimes with painful results. Today Willows Pediatrics wants to remind you to brush your child’s teeth.
Believe it or not, dentists across the nation report that they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more! And recently the Centers for Disease Control found that the number of preschoolers requiring extensive dental work has increased for the first time in forty years. Several factors may be at work here.
Whether your children have been home for the summer or away at camp, when mid-August hits everyone’s minds can’t help turn to “back to school” time! Along with the excitement of buying school supplies and finding out which teachers your children will have comes a bit of planning and preparation. Today Willows Pediatrics would like to address two big school-related issues: backpacks and school lunches.
On the subject of backpacks, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is working to educate students and their parents about the dangers of wearing backpacks that are either too heavy or worn improperly. Overly-heavy backpacks or those worn on one shoulder can cause pain in their neck, shoulders and back as well as posture-related issues. Read More
When babies are little, we feed them first thing every morning. Yet somehow, as kids get older and the morning routine gets more rushed, children (and especially teenagers) are leaving the house without breakfast.
Breakfast has been touted for years as the “most important meal of the day,” and there’s actually a lot of truth in that statement. Not only does it get the body’s metabolism up and running in the morning, but it also affects school performance. (And a caffeinated soda or coffee on the way to Staples, Ludlow, Warde or Prep just doesn’t cut it!)
“Study after study shows that kids who eat breakfast function better,” says Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, a member of the AAP’s Committee on Nutrition, in a recent article entitled The Case for Eating Breakfast. Not only does a morning meal improve behavior, but it also enhances memory and school performance in general.
Everybody—and every body—needs vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital for bone growth and repair and many other bodily functions. A deficiency can cause a number of health issues including weak bones and muscles and, in severe situations, rickets. Unfortunately, especially during adolescence—which also happen to be peak bone building time—vitamin D deficiency is common.
One reason for the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is because very few foods in nature contain it. Fish liver oils and fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel are the best sources, and small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver and egg yolks. Fortified milk, juice and some cereals are other good sources of the vitamin. However, it is important to note (1) that many dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream are not fortified; and (2) at least one study found that 15% of milk samples from the U.S. and Canada had no vitamin D and more than half had less than 80% of the vitamin D content stated on the label. Read More