'c r e s k'  - "creating awareness" on Women and Child Rights, Consumer Rights, Environment Safety, Health, Hygiene and Pollution Control    

This article “Health for children! - Junk foods are really “junk” foods!” Written by Tmt S Jayashree, M.Sc Medical Physics, President ‘c r e s k’, is published as a 3 page article in the leading “Womens Era” Magazine – Issue Sep (II) 2008 (www.womensera.com)

Health for children! - Junk foods are really “junk” foods! 

Children are our future, numbering over 2.3 billion worldwide (aged 0-19) and representing boundless potential. Child survival and development hinge on basic needs to support life; among these, a safe, healthy and clean environment is fundamental - World Health Organization (WHO) 

Junk food typically contains high levels of fat, salt, or sugar and numerous food additives such as monosodium glutamate and tartrazine. At the same time, it is lacking in proteins, vitamins and fiber, among others.  

It is popular with suppliers because it is relatively cheap to manufacture, has a long shelf life and may not require refrigeration. It is popular with consumers because it is easy to purchase, requires little or no preparation, is convenient to consume and has lots of flavor.  

But consumption of junk food is associated with obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and dental cavities. It causes a significant burden on the health system and puts our children at risk of a number of health complications, including diabetes.  

There is also concern about the targeting of marketing at children. Advertising is an immensely potent tool, which can sway the judgment of even the most clued-up consumers. It has the power to reinvent the familiar and make the unfamiliar trustworthy. Children are especially vulnerable to advertising because they are less able than adults to fully understand its persuasive techniques and to therefore judge it critically.  

Advertising regulations and guidelines at national and international levels seek to prohibit the exploitation of children's credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty and to protect them from high pressure selling. Many countries have introduced restrictions on the marketing of tobacco and alcohol with respect to children. Yet food advertising, despite its relationship to child health and nutrition, has received little attention at a regulatory level.  

Researches shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits as evidenced by today’s youth obesity epidemic. 

“While older children and adults understand the inherent bias of advertising, younger children do not and therefore tend to interpret commercial claims and appeals as accurate and truthful information,” 

“Banning junk food ads during kids’ viewing times and especially on kid’s channels is an easy way to help kids get a healthier start in life.”  And it is every parent responsibility to discourage their kids to have such junk foods. 

Let’s save our future India. 

Looks like the article is getting on to a serious topic. Let’s relax! Let me talk to the kids!

Hey kids! “Then what should I eat?” Is this your question? 

Here’s what you should eat to have healthy, safe and bright future! 

Grains, vegetables, fruits, fats and oils, milk and dairy products, beans, and nuts – This is what a healthy food means. Play a lot! Have foods from every natural color, every possible day. Eat less of some foods, and more of others.  

How Much Do I Need to Eat? 

Everyone wants to know how much they should eat to stay healthy. It's a tricky question, though. It depends on your age, whether you're a girl or a boy, and how active you are. Kids who are more active burn more calories, so they need more calories. But we can give you some estimates for how much you need of each food group. 

Grains 

Grains are measured out in ounce equivalents. What the heck are they? Ounce equivalents are just another way of showing a serving size. Here are ounce equivalents for common grain foods. An ounce equivalent equals: 

1 piece of bread, 1/2 cup of cooked cereal, like oatmeal, 1/2 cup of rice and 1 cup of cold cereal  

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 4-5 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 5 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 6 ounce equivalents each day.  

And one last thing about grains: Try to eat a lot of whole grains, such as 100% wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal, Vegetables and Of course, you need your vegetables.  

But how much is enough? Vegetable servings are measured in cups. 

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 1 1/2 cups of veggies each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 2 cups of veggies each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 2 1/2 cups of veggies each day.  

Fruits 

Sweet, juicy fruit is definitely part of a healthy diet. Here's how much you need: 

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 1-1 1/2 cups of fruit each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 1 1/2 cups of fruit each day.  

Milk and Other Calcium-Rich Foods 

Calcium builds strong bones to last a lifetime, so you need these foods in your diet. 

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 1-2 cups of milk (or another calcium-rich food) each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 3 cups of milk (or another calcium-rich food) each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 3 cups of milk (or another calcium-rich food) each day.  

If you want something other than milk, you can substitute yogurt, cheese, or calcium-fortified orange juice - just to name a few. Beans and nuts. These foods contain iron and lots of other important nutrients. Like grains, these foods are measured in ounce equivalents. 

An ounce equivalent of this group would be: 

1/4 cup cooked dry beans, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and a small handful of nuts or seeds  

  • 4- to 8-year-olds need 3-4 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old girls need 5 ounce equivalents each day.
  • 9- to 13-year-old boys need 5 ounce equivalents each day.  

Wow! That's a lot to swallow!  

The good news is that your mom, dad, and the other grown-ups in your life will help you eat what you need to stay healthy. There's more good news - you don't have to become a perfect eater overnight.  

There's a lot of discussion these days about fit kids. People who care (parents, doctors, teachers, and others) want to know how to help kids be more fit. Being fit is a way of saying a person eats well, gets a lot of physical activity (exercise), and has a healthy weight. If you're fit, your body works well, feels good, and can do all the things you want to do, like run around with your friends. 

Some steps only parents can take! 

— Such as serving healthy meals or deciding to take the family on a nature hike. But kids can take charge, too, when it comes to health. Here are five rules to live by, if you're a kid who wants to be fit. The trick is to follow these rules most of the time, knowing that some days (like your birthday) might call for cake and ice cream.  

  1. Eat a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. You may have a favorite food, but the best choice is to eat a variety. If you eat different foods, you're more likely to get the nutrients your body needs. Taste new foods and old ones you haven't tried for a while. Some foods, such as green veggies, are more pleasing the older you get. Shoot for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day — two fruits and three vegetables. Here's one combination that might work for you:  

At breakfast: 1 or 2 Bananas(or available seasonal fruits) on your cereal, With lunch: 6 baby carrots, For a snack: an apple, With dinner: ½ cup cabbage, cauliflower or beans and 1 cup of salad.  

  1. Drink water and milk most often. When you're really thirsty, cold water is the No. 1 thirst-quencher. And there's a reason your school cafeteria offers cartons of milk. Kids need calcium to grow strong bones, and milk is a great source of this mineral. How much do kids need? Aim for 3 cups of milk per day, or its equivalent. You can mix it up by having milk and some other calcium-rich dairy foods. Here's one combination: 

2 cups (about half a liter) of low-fat or nonfat milk, 1 slice cheese, ½ cup (small container) of yogurt. You probably will want something other than milk or water once in a while, so it's OK to have 100% juice, too. But try to limit sugary drinks, like sodas, juice cocktails, and fruit punches. They contain a lot of added sugar. Sugar just adds calories, not important nutrients.

  1. Listen to your body. What does it feel like to be full? When you're eating, notice how your body feels and when your stomach feels comfortably full. Sometimes, people eat too much because they don't notice when they need to stop eating. Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortable and, over a period of time; can lead to unhealthy weight gain  
  2. Limit screen time. What's screen time? It's the amount of time you spend watching TV or DVDs, playing video games and using the computer. The more time you spend on these sitting-down activities, the less time available for active stuff, like basketball, bike riding, and swimming. Try to spend no more than 2 hours a day on screen time  
  3. Be active. One job you have as a kid — and it's a fun one — is that you get to figure out which activities you like best. Not everyone loves cricket or football. Maybe your passion is karate, or kickball, or dancing. Ask your parents to help you do your favorite activities regularly. Find ways to be active every day. You might even write down a list of fun stuff to do, so you can refer to it when your mom or dad says it's time to stop watching TV or playing computer games!  

Speaking of parents, they can be a big help if you want to be a fit kid. For instance, they can stock the house with healthy foods and plan physical activities for the family. Tell your parents about these five steps you want to take and maybe you can teach them a thing or two.  

Be a fit kid!