Healthy child nutrition: what parents should never do
Some parents encourage their children to adopt a healthier diet by sprinkling a little sugar on foods such as fresh strawberries or natural yoghurt. But this trick backfires, as researchers now report. Because children who consume sugared fruit or dairy products have a higher risk of being overweight in the long term.
More and more children are far too fat
According to international research, the number of obese children has increased dramatically. More and more overweight people also live in Germany. Obesity can cause a variety of illnesses. To tackle the problem, the main risk factors for obesity need to be addressed: lack of exercise and unhealthy eating. But how can you positively influence children's eating habits? In any case, not with the so-called "sugar trick", as has now been shown in a study.
A child's body needs a lot of energy
Evolution actually meant it quite well with us. Especially in childhood, when our body needs a lot of energy due to growth, we have a pronounced appetite or even cravings for sweets.
But what was an advantage in a primeval world of deficiency can cause problems in an affluent society, writes the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS in a message.
The proportion of overweight and obese children has multiplied worldwide in the past decades.
From a scientific point of view, in addition to a lack of physical activity, this is mainly due to the increased consumption of sweets and soft drinks with a high sugar content.
Communicate a healthy diet
Many parents therefore rightly try to teach their offspring a healthy, low-sugar diet.
But not all children are happy when there is "only" healthy fruit and vegetables.
Some parents therefore sprinkle sugar on the fresh fruit and on the natural yoghurt or cocoa in the milk to give the little ones a little bit of a sweet start on the way to a healthy diet.
But what is meant well can have a negative effect in the long term, as a current study by the BIPS now shows.
Diet quality decreased
For this purpose, the international team of researchers from Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Estonia and Germany evaluated the data of the more than 16,000 children who had participated in the European IDEFICS study on childhood overweight.
A large number of these children were examined again after two years as part of the study led by BIPS in order to identify changes over time.
According to the scientists, the analysis showed a clear picture.
The children who consumed more sugared fruit, smoothies and dairy products at the time of the first examination showed two years later significantly more signs of overweight and obesity than the comparison group.
In addition, the quality of their diet had dropped more frequently and more severely - that is, became healthier - than that of the control group.
To a large extent avoid sweetening fruits and dairy products
"The results show that the sugaring of healthy food - even if it is meant well - does the opposite," said Dr. Antje Hebestreit, head of the lifestyle-related diseases group at BIPS and co-author of the study.
"Our guess is that the taste characteristics that we experience especially at a young age play an important role here," said the expert.
"So if you eat sweets often - even if only a small amount of added sugar - as a child, you will also eat sugary foods more often later and thus increase your risk, obesity and metabolic disorders such as Developing diabetes, ”said Dr. Lifting dispute.
“Our recommendation is therefore to largely avoid sugar, honey and instant powder for sweetening fruits and dairy products. It makes more sense to deliberately offer the children a wide variety of flavors in order to prevent the large boredom at the dining table and a monotonous and therefore unhealthy food selection in later years. "
And: "Those who focus on diversity instead of sugar are more likely to provide their children with the wide range of nutrients that children need for their growth and well-being." (Ad)