Nutrition in Children:
Our War Against Changing Trends
There is a constant battle going on in the homes of many families, and this war has to do with food choices. In my own pediatric practice, some parents are concerned because of the lack of healthy food in their child’s diet. Some parents show little concern about their child’s eating habits. However, on further questioning, I find their child’s diet is filled with unhealthy food choices, lacks fruits and vegetables, or does not come close to reaching the recommended calcium requirements.
Trends have changed drastically over the last several decades, and these trends have changed the type of health problems our children face. Health officials are worried about the future of our children. Concerns that are being raised include:
Poor Eating Habits
Poor Eating Habits Evident in Our Children. A study from the journal Pediatrics surveyed 3,307 children, two to 19 years of age in the United States. Only one percent, that is 33 children, met all recommendations for the Food Pyramid Guide. Those that met all recommendations had nutrient intakes above the recommended dietary allowances and their diet was generally too high in fat.
Our children are growing up in a fast-food world, and they are being marketed to by advertisers with many unhealthy food choices. The truth is that most children are not getting the nutrition they need.
Cancer on the Rise in Children More than Ever Before. Federal health experts have concerns about why cancer rates are on the rise in children. There are about 8,000 new cases of cancer in children under 15 years of age each year in the United States. Childhood cancer has risen steadily over the last 15 years. Acute lymphocytic leukemia is up 10 percent and brain tumors are up more than 30 percent in the last 15 years. Cancer has become the leading cause of death due to disease among children. In recent years, deaths from cancer have declined because of earlier detection and improved treatment, but experts are concerned that survival rates could be eclipsed because of the rising rates of new cases. Many experts, including Dr. Kenneth Cooper, author of the Antioxidant Revolution, feel that environmental toxins are in part responsible for this increase. Some experts estimate that as many as 80 percent of childhood cancers are caused by environmental factors.
Allergies and Asthma
Allergies and Asthma Now Affect Millions of Children. Statistics from 1994 from the Center for Disease Control found that asthma affects nearly 14 million Americans. This is nearly double the rate from 1980. Almost five million of these asthmatics are children. Asthma is the most prevalent chronic condition among children. Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, affects 26 million Americans. The role of air pollution and other toxins have been implicated in contributing to this rise in allergies and asthma.
Environmental Toxins and Unsafe Food
Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Unsafe Food on the Rise Daily. Experts have concerns about the hazards of various toxins on the health of children. For example, studies on safety levels of pesticides are based on the adult male. We do not really know what that safety level is for children. The contamination of food has become an issue as the media brings attention to cases of Salmonella, E.coli, and hepatitis transmitted via unsafe foods.