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Kids' Diets Worsen with Age

“It can be challenging to get kids to eat an apple instead of a candy bar, but a new study shows that as children age, it gets even harder. Researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health tracked the diets of 291 area students in the third, fifth and eighth grades. Students were asked to list the foods and drinks they consumed in the previous 24 hours. As kids got older, researchers found, they were less likely to eat fruits and vegetables and drink milk, and more likely to skip breakfast and drink soda. Ninety-nine percent of the third graders said they ate breakfast compared to 85 percent of the eight graders. Fewer than two-thirds of third graders reported eating at least a quarter cup of fruit and fewer than 60 percent ate at least a quarter cup of vegetables during the previous day. Only 37 percent of eight graders reported eating fruits and only 42 percent reported eating vegetables. Milk consumption also dropped significantly and soft drink consumption tripled, researchers report in the March/April issue of American Journal of Health Promotion. …


“These findings suggest that we need to pay more attention to nutrition education in the elementary and middle school years and to providing environments that support young people’s choice of healthful foods,” says lead study author Leslie A. Lytle. Other studies have shown children are increasingly opting for junk food choices instead of healthier foods. Government statistics also indicate obesity, a public health threat for American adults, is also becoming a problem for children.” By Katrina Woznicki, OnHealth (May 2, 2000).


Parents: We must never underestimate the importance of nutrition education in our own homes. “Many parents, to avoid the task of patiently educating their children to habits of self-denial, indulge them in eating and drinking whatever they please. The desire to satisfy the taste and to gratify inclination does not lessen with the increase of years; and these indulged youth, as they grow up, are governed by impulse, slaves to appetite… In the glutton, the tobacco devotee, … and the inebriate, we see the evil results of erroneous education.”

-Child Guidance, p. 406

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