About Lisa Andrews

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD,  is a registered dietitian and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati. She shares her clinical, culinary, and community nutrition knowledge through cooking demos, teaching, and freelance writing. Lisa is a regular contributor to Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian and is the author of the Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook.  Her line of food pun merchandise, Lettuce beet hunger, supports those suffering food insecurity in Cincinnati.  For more information, visit her website: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/

 

I don’t know what’s happening in your neck of the woods, but once September 21 turned to September 22, fall officially arrived in the Midwest.

Summer flowers fade while leaves begin to change color. Cooler temps mean trading in shorts and t-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts.

It also means swapping cold salads for hot soups!

The beauty of soup is that it’s one of the most versatile, inexpensive meals you can make. All you really need is a handful of ingredients, a pot, and a little imagination. Even if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, soup is simple to prepare and always appreciated on a chili day (pun intended).

Feed Your Face and Brain!

Soup not only warms your belly, but it may also have medicinal properties. Chicken soup, for example, contains collagen, a compound that’s part of skin structure and other connective tissues. One clinical study found that chicken soup eaten by human subjects increased skin elasticity and decreased facial pigmentation. 1

Various compounds in a traditional Chinese soup may have a protective effect against dementia. Appropriately named, “Smart soup” (SS) is a combination of Rhizoma Acori Tatarinowii (AT), Poria cum Radix Pini (PRP) and Radix Polygalae (RP). While studies were done in mice, intake of SS reduced cognitive impairment and neuronal loss in mice with Alzheimer’s dementia. More studies are needed to evaluate the impact of SS in humans. 2

In the Pot

Soup is an excellent vehicle for vegetables. From mirepoix (chopped carrots, celery, and onion) to peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini, just about any vegetable can (and should) be added to soup. Adding vegetables not only brings color and texture to your soup, but a higher content of vitamins A and C, potassium, and other important nutrients and phytochemicals.

Using less-than-perfect produce is perfect for soup as well as stock. Chop the stalks of kale and sauté them like you would celery. This adds more fiber to your soup. Wilting spinach leaves or a slightly bruised tomato can be chopped and added to a white bean or lentil soup.

Speaking of beans, they make an excellent addition to any soup! After all, they're  inexpensive and provide protein, soluble fiber, B vitamins, iron, and zinc to your concoction. Lentils are another delicious option as they cook up quickly and can be seasoned with canned pumpkin and chipotle pepper or delicious Indian spices.

To make soups more filling, use barley, brown rice, or whole grain couscous in your soup. This boosts the fiber content and gives the soup a thicker consistency. These can be left out if you’re trying to limit carbohydrates.

Below are Some Add-Ins for Your Next Pot of Soup:

  • Dried basil, oregano, or rosemary with white bean soup
  • Chili powder, cumin, and oregano in black bean soup
  • Cinnamon, cumin, or nutmeg in pumpkin or sweet potato soup
  • Corn, chopped onions, and peppers in your red bean soup
  • Curry powder, garlic, and ginger in lentil soup
  • Chopped mushrooms, scallions, and ginger in Asian soups

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

References:

  1. Hoenig LJ. Chicken Soup for the Skin! Clin Dermatol. 2022 Sep 16:S0738-081X(22)00118-3. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2022.09.002. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36122880.
  2. Hou Y, Wang Y, Zhao J, Li X, Cui J, Ding J, Wang Y, Zeng X, Ling Y, Shen X, Chen S, Huang C, Pei G. Smart Soup, a traditional Chinese medicine formula, ameliorates amyloid pathology and related cognitive deficits. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 11;9(11):e111215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111215. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2020 Aug 3;15(8):e0237035. PMID: 25386946; PMCID: PMC4227681.

PDF Handout: 5 Ways to Elevate Soup

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Strategies for Managing Processed Foods in Your Eating Pattern

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We’ve been discussing ultra-processed foods and how prevalent they are on our grocery and pantry shelves.

Ultra-processed foods are those that contain added sugar, fat, oil, preservatives, artificial colors or flavors or stabilizers. Last week I covered the popular breakfast muffin (AKA ‘cake’). Sadly, it’s not the only breakfast food out there that could use some work.

If you haven’t read the box of pancake or waffle mix in a while, now might be a good time. These mixes fall under the ultra-processed category given their combo platter of ingredients including enriched bleached flour, vegetable oil, (which could be canola, palm, or soy), corn starch, dextrose leavening agents, salt, sugar, DATEM, and monoglycerides.

S t r e t c h I n g the truth
Do you know about “DATEM”?. DATEM stands for Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides. This is a chemical compound used in baking as an emulsifier to strengthen dough, making it stretchy. DATEM is on the GRAS list (generally recognized as safe and may also be used in salad dressings or coffee creamers as a whitening agent.

While this ingredient is listed as GRAS, a recent study published in Nutrition Bulletin suggests these types of emulsifiers may be associated with inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome. This link raises the question as to whether or not these additives may raise the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and Crohn’s disease. (1)

Monoglycerides are chemicals that are found naturally in food but may also be added to processed foods. They contain one fatty acid chain and a glyceride (sugar molecule). They’re added to foods to extend shelf life and provide stability to a product. When digested, they turn back into triglycerides, which are stored for energy to be used later.

Striking out
Unfortunately, monoglycerides in food may contribute to the risk of heart disease as they contain small amounts of trans-fat. Trans-fats were banned by the FDA in 2015 and manufacturers had roughly 3 years to get them out of food. However, products may contain .5 grams of trans fat per serving and be labeled trans-fat-free. (2)

Monoglycerides may also be found in coffee creamer, ice cream, bread, mayonnaise, margarine, frozen meals, commercial crackers, and baked goods. While that pancake mix may only be used on weekends, trans fats from several others foods we regularly consume can add up.

A recipe for success
The good news is that pancakes are ridiculously simple to make from scratch. Here’s my go-to:

Buttermilk Pancakes

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (add 1 Tbsp. white vinegar or lemon juice to milk to make buttermilk)
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ Tbsp. canola oil

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, buttermilk, egg, and canola oil.
3. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
4. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle to medium heat.
5. Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour out ½ cup of batter to make pancakes.
6. Heat on one side until bubbles form (about 3 minutes), then flip to cook the other side.
7. Repeat until the batter is gone.

Serve the pancakes with fresh or frozen fruit and or a fruit puree. This makes a great switch for part or all of the syrup usually poured over pancakes.

Makes 8 small pancakes

Download PDF Printable Recipe Handout With Nutrition Analysis

References
1. Partridge D, Lloyd KA, Rhodes JM, Walker AW, Johnstone AM, Campbell BJ. Food additives: Assessing the impact of exposure to permitted emulsifiers on bowel and metabolic health - introducing the FADiets study. Nutr Bull. 2019;44(4):329-349.
2. Trans Fat | FDA

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

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National Family Meals Month happens annually in September and is the perfect segue to Kid’s Health Month in October. While families may be busier than ever with multiple jobs, sports teams, and community activities, sitting down and enjoying food and conversation together is vital to good health. And not just for kids.

Family meals offer a wealth of health from head to toe. Keep reading to learn more!

Defeat Depression
Did you know that eating regular meals helps fight depression in teens? A national study with 8500 students evaluated the connection between family meals and teenage mental health. Roughly 60% of teens had family meals 5 times or more per week while 22% had meals less than twice per week. More frequent family meals were linked with fewer symptoms of depression, fewer emotional difficulties, and improved emotional well-being. When compared between the sexes, the relationship was stronger for girls than boys. 1

A Canadian study of nearly 1500 children examined the association between early family meals (at age 6) and behaviors at age 10 including scholastic achievement, lifestyle habits, and social adjustment. Researchers noted that the quality of the family meal environment at a young age resulted in better levels of fitness, reduced consumption of soft drinks, and lower levels of physical aggression, oppositional behavior, nonaggressive delinquency, and reactive aggression by age 10. 2

Older studies also support family mealtime in reducing at-risk behaviors including drug use and suicide. A survey of nearly 99,500 students aged 12 to 18 from public and alternative schools across the US evaluated family dinner frequency and developmental assets including positive values, social competencies, positive identity, and commitment to learning. An inverse relationship was consistently seen between how often students ate family dinner and all high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual activity, depression, and suicide, to name a few. 3

Desirable Diet
In addition to family meals being great for mental health, they’re also beneficial in promoting optimal nutrition in children. A recent review of studies indicated that family meal frequency was positively associated with increased intake of more nutrient-dense foods and a balanced diet. More structured meals and meal times were linked with less fussiness and emotional eating, and more food enjoyment in infants and toddlers. 4

Another study examined the characteristics of healthy meals in 272 young children in a low-income area of Michigan. Meal variables included TV use, eating at the table, family-style meals, and the presence of a parent. Results showed higher diet quality when the TV was off, family-style meals were served and the family was eating at a table. A parent partaking in the meal did not impact Healthy Meal Index (HMI) scores. 5

How can healthcare providers encourage more family meals? Check out the tips below and delicious recipes to follow this month:

  1. Encourage a scheduled time for family dinners to take place most days of the week. This gets kids in the habit of eating at a regular time with family.
  2. Choose consistent themes for kids to anticipate like meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, “whatever Wednesday” (leftovers), or Fish Friday.
  3. Have kids participate in planning and prepping the meal. This may get them eggcited about the meal ahead.
  4. Turn off the tube and other electronic devices. Family meals are meant for conversations, not digital presentations.
  5. Make meals simple. If time is an issue, pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it with salad or frozen veggies and rice.
  6. Eat at the table. This encourages regularity and consistency with mealtime.

Stay tuned for simple meal ideas this month!

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

References:

  1. Utter J, Denny S, Peiris-John R, Moselen E, Dyson B, Clark T. Family Meals and Adolescent Emotional Well-Being: Findings From a National Study. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2017 Jan;49(1):67-72.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2016.09.002. Epub 2016 Oct 26. PMID: 28341017.
  2. Harbec MJ, Pagani LS. Associations Between Early Family Meal Environment Quality and Later Well-Being in School-Age Children. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2018 Feb/Mar;39(2):136-143. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000520. PMID: 29227338.
  3. Fulkerson JA, Story M, Mellin A, Leffert N, Neumark-Sztainer D, French SA. Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors. J Adolesc Health. 2006 Sep;39(3):337-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.12.026. Epub 2006 Jul 10. PMID: 16919794.
  4. Verhage CL, Gillebaart M, van der Veek SMC, Vereijken CMJL. The relation between family meals and health of infants and toddlers: A review. Appetite. 2018 Aug 1;127:97-109. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.04.010. Epub 2018 Apr 11. PMID: 29654851.
  5. Kasper N, Ball SC, Halverson K, Miller AL, Appugliese D, Lumeng JC, Peterson KE. Deconstructing the Family Meal: Are Characteristics of the Mealtime Environment Associated with the Healthfulness of Meals Served? J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019 Aug;119(8):1296-1304. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.01.009. Epub 2019 Mar 18. PMID: 30898585; PMCID: PMC6987980.

You didn't think I forgot your free handout, did you? Here it is: 5 Tips for Family  Meals

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Strategies for Managing Processed Foods in Your Eating Pattern

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Remember the days of orange slices and Coleman coolers full of ice water after soccer games? The only package for snacks then was a sweet orange peel!

Those days seem long gone. Soccer fields today are littered (sometimes literally) with chip bags and empty Gatorade bottles.

With the rate of childhood obesity at an all-time high, most kids probably don’t need a 350-calorie snack after a short practice or one-hour game. In 2019-2020, the rate of obesity in kids aged 10 to 17 was 16.2%. The national rate for obesity in kids aged 2 to 19 rose to 22.4% during the pandemic. 1

Our kids deserve better snacks. Nutrient-dense snacks will help them feel better, focus, and could even help prevent premature cases of type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

So today, for the next installment of our series, Let’s Get Kids Healthy, this week’s blog is all about snacks!

Which Snacks?

Snacks are not inherently a bad idea, especially for kids. The right kind of snack can help fuel growing kids' bodies and fill in nutritional gaps. In addition, distributing food throughout the day in smaller quantities may prevent digestive issues. 2

Snacks like dairy products can provide needed calcium, vitamin D, and protein in kids’ diets. A small study that evaluated salivary cortisol levels and appetite in children aged 9 to 14 years found that Greek yogurt and cheese (but not milk) reduced appetite and were just as effective as traditional snacks (chips, cookies) at reducing subsequent food intake. 3

Dairy products as snacks may also impact blood glucose levels in this age group. A study that evaluated the impact of dairy on overweight and normal weight children found that when compared to a similar calorie level snack, those that consumed dairy had lower post-prandial blood sugar and higher insulin levels. 4

According to a 2018 study on snacking habits of US children aged 2 to 5 years, snacks provided 28% of energy intake, 32% of carbohydrates, 39% of added sugars, and 26% of fat and dietary fiber for the day. For the day recorded, snacking accounted for over 46% of all drinks consumed. Snacks and sweets contributed quite a bit of added sugar as well -- 53%. 5

Snack Attack

Since snacks can add significant sugar and calories to children’s eating patterns, it’s important to give childcare providers and parents healthy options for their kids. For starters, it’s rarely a good idea to reward kids with food, particularly energy-dense snacks. This can set the stage for mindless and emotional eating later in life.

A recent study in 3642 children aged 4 to 9 indicated that parents’ use of food as a reward in children aged 4 years predicted Emotional Overeating and Picky Eating at the age of 9 years. Over time, higher Emotional Eating and Food Responsiveness scores were observed with more use of food as a reward. It was not associated with children’s response to satiety, BMI, or risk of being overweight, which is surprising. 6

Snacks for Group Activities and After School

As mentioned above, snacks can provide necessary nutrients for growing kids... when they’re the right snacks. Frosted cupcakes or mini bags of Skittles are not the best ideas. Make sure there’s FOOD in the food!

Don't worry, we're not going to leave you with a list of things not to do and no actual snack ideas for kids! Here are some suggestions for healthy snacks that are made up of actual food.

Not Sure Where to Start? Try These Snack Ideas...

  • Trail mix made with sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and Cheerios or Chex cereal
  • String cheese sticks and whole grain crackers
  • Celery sticks with almond or peanut butter
  • Berries and grapes with yogurt dip
  • Pepper strips and cherry tomatoes with hummus
  • Apple slices with cubed cheese
  • Turkey and cheese pinwheels
  • Sunflower seed butter energy bites

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

PDF Handout: Snacks for Kids

References:

  1. The State of Childhood Obesity - Helping All Children Grow Up Healthy
  2. Marangoni F, Martini D, Scaglioni S, Sculati M, Donini LM, Leonardi F, Agostoni C, Castelnuovo G, Ferrara N, Ghiselli A, Giampietro M, Maffeis C, Porrini M, Barbi B, Poli A. Snacking in nutrition and health. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2019 Dec;70(8):909-923. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2019.1595543. Epub 2019 Apr 10. PMID: 30969153.
  3. Gheller BJF, Li AC, Gheller ME, Armstrong T, Vandenboer E, Bellissimo N, Anini Y, Hamilton J, Nunes F, Mollard RC, Anderson GH, Luhovyy BL. The effect of dairy products and non-dairy snacks on food intake, subjective appetite and cortisol levels in children: a randomized control study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2021 Sep;46(9):1097-1104. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2020-0909. Epub 2021 Mar 16. PMID: 33725464.
    4. Gheller BJ, Gheller M, Li A, Nunes F, Anini Y, Glanville NT, Bellissimo N, Hamilton J, Anderson GH, Luhovyy BL. Effect of dairy and nondairy snacks on postprandial blood glucose regulation in 9-14-year-old children. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2019 Oct;44(10):1073-1080. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0549. Epub 2019 Feb 22. PMID: 30794429.
  4. Shriver LH, Marriage BJ, Bloch TD, Spees CK, Ramsay SA, Watowicz RP, Taylor CA. Contribution of snacks to dietary intakes of young children in the United States. Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Jan;14(1):e12454. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12454. Epub 2017 Mar 23. PMID: 28337856; PMCID: PMC6866248.
  5. Jansen PW, Derks IPM, Mou Y, van Rijen EHM, Gaillard R, Micali N, Voortman T, Hillegers MHJ. Associations of parents' use of food as reward with children's eating behaviour and BMI in a population-based cohort. Pediatr Obes. 2020 Nov;15(11):e12662. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12662. Epub 2020 Jun 16. PMID: 32548949; PMCID: PMC7583369.
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Holy grocery bills Batman! The cost of food is up 10.4% from last year, according to a recent review in Forbes. 1 Many families are feeling the pinch when it comes to mealtime. The pandemic, rising fuel costs, climate change, government subsidies, increased meat consumption, and world trade organization stockpile limits all play a part in the bump in food costs and there seems to be no relief in sight.

Yet we still need to feed our families and make the most of our meals. Lunch is no exception. Programs like the National School Lunch Program offered by the US Dept. of Agriculture are a way for kids to obtain free or reduced-cost lunches. According to the USDA, 30 million students are eligible for the National School lunch program. 2

In our new series, Let's Get Kids Healthy, we’ve discussed the impact of common foods and the top 10 nutrients for kids. Now lettuce look at lunch!

Why Lunch Matters:

Lunchtime can be stressful for kids. Despite it being a “break” in the day, most kids have 30 minutes or less to find their friends, a seat, and decent food to eat. Long lunch lines and not-so-healthy choices often keep kids from getting adequate “food in their food.”

Fortunately, food quality for school lunches has improved. Based on school menu data of schools participating in the National School Lunch Program, healthy eating index scores were compiled. From school years 2009-2019 and 2014-2015, school lunch scores went from 58% to 82%. Lunch component scores for whole grains, greens, and beans increased by 20%. Nutritional analysis indicates that meals are better at meeting Dietary Guidelines than previously. 3

The midday meal is important to refuel for learning and maintain good nutrition. A 2018 study evaluating the association between frequency and participation in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program and children’s intake found that those that consumed lunch had higher milk and calcium intakes than those who didn’t. Intake of fruit was higher in those utilizing school breakfast. 4

Pack It Up!

Another option is packing lunch. This gives parents and students more control over healthy food choices and provides children with more time to actually eat their lunches. Educating children early about nutritious food to pack in their lunches is key.

Similar to breakfast, lunch should include complex carbohydrates (whole grain bread, buns, or crackers), protein (turkey, hummus, tuna, or nut/seed butter), and some produce (fresh veggies and fruit). Don’t forget a water bottle! Hydration is key to good health, too.

Save Money on Lunch:

  • Repurpose leftovers from dinner.
  • Pack snacks in reusable containers instead of plastic bags (it's better for the environment too).
  • Purchase store-brand bread, crackers, canned beans, and snacks.
  • Make your own hummus.
  • Buy seasonal fruits and veggies. Take advantage of sales!
  • Bring a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water.
  • Buy plain yogurt in bulk and add frozen fruit yourself.
  • Make trail mix with dried cereal, nuts or seeds, and dried fruit

Save Time with Speedy Lunches:

  • Peanut butter, banana, and honey on whole wheat bread with grapes or tangerines.
  • Black bean and shredded cheese pinwheels using whole wheat tortillas. Add grape tomatoes or pepper strips on the side.
  • Hard-cooked eggs with whole grain crackers, carrot sticks, and a banana.
  • Chili or soup packed in a thermos. Include whole grain crackers and dates or raisins.
  • Hummus and whole grain pita chips with sliced cucumbers and celery sticks.
  • Last night’s chicken packed in a pita with spinach and cucumbers with apple slices on the side.
  • Leftover pasta packed in a thermos. Pair with blueberries or strawberries.
  • Turkey sandwich on rye or whole wheat bread with sliced cheese. Serve with carrot sticks and fruit.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

References:

  1. Food Price Increases, A Disoriented Consumer, And Unreconciled Supply And Demand: The Post-Covid Reality (forbes.com)
  2. School Meals | Healthy Schools | CDC
  3. Gearan EC, Fox MK. Updated Nutrition Standards Have Significantly Improved the Nutritional Quality of School Lunches and Breakfasts. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2020 Mar;120(3):363-370. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.10.022. Epub 2020 Jan 13. PMID: 31948795.
  4. Au LE, Gurzo K, Gosliner W, Webb KL, Crawford PB, Ritchie LD. Eating School Meals Daily Is Associated with Healthier Dietary Intakes: The Healthy Communities Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018 Aug;118(8):1474-1481.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2018.01.010. Epub 2018 Mar 17. PMID: 29555435; PMCID: PMC6064655.

Free Handout: School Lunch on a Budget

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Strategies for Managing Processed Foods in Your Eating Pattern

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Most parents look forward to their children’s annual physicals to see how that mark on the kitchen wall will compare to the pediatric growth chart.

Growth spurts are natural and expected in kids. But adult diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver are not. Unfortunately, recent research indicates that 1 in 3 children are obese. With unwanted weight gain comes unexpected chronic diseases. 1

While I don’t advocate for putting kids on weight loss diets, it’s important to pay attention to what’s in their beverage bottles and backpacks.

Last week we took a look at the top 10 nutrients kids need to learn and grow. In this second post for Let’s Get Kids Healthy, we’ll take a look at what kids are eating (and drinking) the most, then give some guidance on obesity prevention.

How Sweet It Isn’t:

It’s no surprise that sugar tops the list of what kids should consume in moderation. From sugar-sweetened cereal in the morning to granola bars for snacks and sports drinks after school, our kids are on sugar overload.

A recent Chinese study indicates that sugar is one of the key causes of weight gain in children and teens. The study (in over 1800 children and teens combined) found that excess sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) was consumed by 44% of overweight and obese subjects. The threshold to cause weight gain was 25 grams per day, equivalent to 8 ¼ teaspoons daily. Efforts to reduce sugar should be made to reduce the chance of weight gain. 2

A systematic review evaluating beverage intake in children and adults also found that the majority of studies (80%) showed a correlation between SSB intake and adiposity. Results were not always consistent within studies that had various outcome measures. The same was not true in children consuming 100% juice, though it is still a source of calories. 3

Pass the Salt, Please

As the availability of fast food and snacks increases, so will sodium consumption in kids. Too much sodium is linked with hypertension and heart disease, even at young ages. A recent study evaluating the salt intake of children compared to their parents found that 91% of children consumed more than the recommended daily allowance for sodium. Kids’ sodium intake mimicked their mothers more than their fathers. Almost 60% of the 633 children studied had sodium intakes that exceeded their parents. 4

A recent study in Nutrients also points to salt and sugar intake as an issue in kids. Children have a natural taste for sweets as infants and their taste for salty food develops within a few weeks of age. If they develop a habit of salting food at the table or consuming higher-sodium foods, their intake may extend into adulthood, which puts them at further risk for essential hypertension and arterial disease. 5

Fat, Fat, Fat

Accompanying many sugary treats and fried, salty snacks is dietary fat. While avocado slices, nuts, and seeds provide essential fatty acids and important micronutrients like zinc and potassium, trans and saturated fats in snacks and fast food aren’t doing kids any favors.

As mentioned previously, weight gain may be associated with fatty liver disease, even in children. A recent study found that a Western-style diet of refined carbohydrates and fried foods was positively associated with hepatic fat fraction -- a measure of fat content in the liver.

The study in nearly 400 multi-ethnic youth showed that those following a diet high in fruits and vegetables had lower hepatic fat while a Western diet was associated with higher hepatic fat fraction. 5

Reducing saturated and trans fat in children’s diets may also improve their lipids and blood pressure. A systematic review of randomized control trials in children aged 2 to 19 indicated that a diet low in saturated fat reduced total cholesterol, LDL, and blood pressure compared to control diets. Reducing these fats may aid in lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease later in life. 6

How Can We Reduce Obesity and Disease in Kids?

  1. Teach your clients how to read labels. Give them guidance on acceptable, realistic limits on sugar, fat, and sodium.
  2. Substitute seltzer water for sugary soda.
  3. Be a role model. Add more fruits and veggies to your meals or snacks and be sure to have your kids see you eating them.
  4. Don’t reward kids for finishing everything on their plate. This only encourages overeating!
  5. Make simple meals at home like black beans and rice and reduce fast food intake. This cuts back on sugar, fat, and sodium as well as cost!
  6. Choose lightly salted nuts or seeds over fried chips for snacks.
  7. Offer fruit for dessert in place of ice cream, pastries or other treats.
  8. Give kids stickers over suckers for a job well done.

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Free Handout: Help Kids Stay Healthy

References:

  1. Kumar S, Kelly AS. Review of Childhood Obesity: From Epidemiology, Etiology, and Comorbidities to Clinical Assessment and Treatment. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Feb;92(2):251-265. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.09.017. Epub 2017 Jan 5. PMID: 28065514..
  2. Yu L, Zhou H, Zheng F, Song J, Lu Y, Yu X, Zhao C. Sugar Is the Key Cause of Overweight/Obesity in Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB). Front Nutr. 2022 Jun 28;9:885704. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.885704. PMID: 35836588; PMCID: PMC9274200.
  3. Mayer-Davis E, Leidy H, Mattes R, Naimi T, Novotny R, Schneeman B, Kingshipp BJ, Spill M, Cole NC, Bahnfleth CL, Butera G, Terry N, Obbagy J. Beverage Consumption and Growth, Size, Body Composition, and Risk of Overweight and Obesity: A Systematic Review [Internet]. Alexandria (VA): USDA Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review; 2020 Jul. PMID: 35349233.
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