As reported in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists say that pregnant women and those breast feeding their young who are increasing their uptake of fatty and sugary foods may be programming the eating habits of their unborn or developing children toward similar types of food.
They further suggest that such children will have a tendency toward eating foods high in sugar and fats.
Studies done on the eating habits of rats show that those whose mothers were fed human junk foods while they were pregnant or lactating produced offspring who had a preference for foods high in fats and sugars. These same rat offspring had a tendency to eat more than rats from mothers who were fed normal diets. These same scientists suggest that human results should likely be the same.
With these thoughts in mind we should perhaps look at other aspects of food and children's fitness.
Experts in the field of children's eating habits suggest that they pick up many of their views, unconscious of other, by observing what adults do with regard to food. They suggest that parents who demonstrate healthy eating habits that also allow for the occasional straying to junk food as a treat develop a far healthier attitude towards food in their children. Children whose parents strictly stick to healthy foods and do not allow the occasional sampling of junk food may help develop some unhealthy practices towards eating; some of which may be binge-eating and cheating.
Dr Rachel Pryke, a mother of three, and practicing doctor in Redditch, Worcestershire, UK believes that we may be developing in our children psychological difficulties with food because of the way we, the parents, deal with food, junk food and dieting.
When one member of the family goes on a diet they eat differently than the rest of the family. Often their comments about the foods they are allowed to and not allowed to eat give their children incorrect feelings about healthy eating and associate it with discomfort, hunger and even sense of denial. They also begin to see associations with abstinence followed by binge-eating. This can be followed by guilt feelings in children when they eat the so-called forbidden foods.
Dr. Pyke goes on further to say that girls are even more prone to copy dieting behaviours and to associate guilt feelings with eating enjoyable foods. This kind of relationship with food may lead to the very unhealthy cycle of dieting followed by binge eating that has a great tendency to lead to obesity.
It is very important that we, the adults, take the lead and demonstrate that practicing healthy eating can also allow for the occasional enjoyment of less healthy foods. Teaching an understanding of the need for the healthy foods as the main intake of food will help our children to likewise learn to follow a balanced diet.
In learning to help our children to eat in a healthy manner it is important that we understand that children have different nutritional need than we do. According to the experts fat, which is part of a well-balanced diet may be even more important to the healthy development of children. Research tends to show that children attain a far greater amount of their energy from burning fats than do adults. These results tend to indicate that putting children on a low fat diet, even in cases of obesity may be the wrong direction to take.
One might extrapolate from this that increased and regular fitness activity combined with a balanced diet which doesn't remove or restrict any food group would be the more prudent route to take.
John Kostyak (Pennsylvania State University) led a study by a US team which found that the total fat consumed by children in activity amounted to about the same as that consumed by adults. When you adjust for size and weight, one comes up with the conclusion that of the total calories consumed by children; one quarter to one third should be fat compared to one fifth for adults.
Tam Fry, board member of the National Obesity Forum was quoted as saying that "Young children need more fat and energy for the whole purpose of growing up and living. Therefore to give them low fat and sugar-free products is a bad idea."
A rational individual might tend to conclude from this that just like for healthy adults, we should preach and demonstrate that regular physical activity combined with a sensible, healthy diet would be the ideal solution for healthy children. This should include physical fitness that embodies both aerobic and strength activity and a healthy diet that includes junk foods in moderation.