The Obesity Society (yes, such an organization exists!) convened last week for its annual meeting.
Here are some scary numbers from a research program called “Nestle Feeding Infants & Toddlers Study”:
1. 10% of preschoolers age 2-5 are obese.
2. Eating habits are established as young as 12-24 months, and unfortunately toddlers are getting a bad start.
3. By age 4, calories from sweets account for three times more than calories from fruits and vegetables.
4. One third of their daily calories come from snacks between meals. Unfortunately, cookies, candy and crackers are the snacks most consumed.
“We’re seeing poor eating habits starting early in life, and they mirror those of older children and adults. Parents and caregivers need to know that eating patterns are set early – between 12 to 24 months. It’s crucial to establish the foundation for healthy diets early in life when eating habits and food preferences are being formed,” said Dr. Kathleen Reidy, DrPH, RD, Head, Nutrition Science, Nestle Infant Nutrition. read more…
Scary to think that it’s getting worse from year to year.
What you can do as a parent to a baby / toddler:
1. Set an example by eating healthfully. If you’re guzzling a coke, your child will want one too. If you’re demolishing a family pack of Doritos watching the game on Sunday afternoon, your kid will do the same.
2. Don’t go down the juice path. Keep your baby hydrated with water. No need for the extra calories from juice.
3. Always have fruit or vegetable available for snack. Whether banana, blueberries, apple slices, baby carrots, cherry tomatos, or frozen options, young people need to be accustomed to the shapes, colors, and flavors of veggies and fruit.
4. That said, allow for junk food, but in extremely small portions, and not when your toddler is hungry.
5. Prepare food together. Toddlers love to play with food, and watch it being prepared. Give them a front row seat to your prep work by bringing their highchair into a vantage point on your prep work (never too close to the stove or range). Talk with them about what you are preparing and let them “help” in whatever capacity is relevant.