Health & Diet

Are Low-Fat Diets Bad For Children?

K9093-1Photo by USDAgov

It is no wonder parents are more concerned than ever about what their kids are eating, since childhood obesity climbs at an alarming rate. Adult people are constantly exposed to the latest weight loss pills and diet foods, and in a world which is so conscious about weight, it is hard not to translate these ideas into the way we deal with the health of our children.

Diet fads are not the answer, even though we want our children to be healthy. This includes the standard low-fat diet, which is downright dangerous for our children as well as suspiciously ineffective for adults in the long-term. One study has shown that adults and children burn about the same amount of fat every day, although children burn much less overall energy. Unlike adults, children need a diet high in fat. In addition, unlike adults, they need about 5-10% more calories from fat.

Although children have smaller bodies, they use a huge amount of energy in support of development and growth. This includes the development of the muscle tissue, bone structure, immune system and nervous system. This information is not often displayed in the media, where low-fat diets are usually praised in both commercial advertisements and regular programming. In addition, there are also many medical professionals who give unclear recommendation of eating as less fat as possible.

Since many parents are constantly listening that dietary fat is bad and should be avoided, they easily think that this is healthy for their children, as well. This misinformation is destructive to the health of our children, since their bodies require fat in order to develop and function properly. If a certain amount of fat is not present, fat-soluble vitamins, such as K, E, D, and A cannot be utilized or stored. Since these vitamins are crucial for the growth in our children, any long-term deficiency can cause serious consequences.

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Low-fat diets can thwart the natural process of puberty and cause growth retardation. When on these diets, children simply cannot gain enough weight or linear height. It can be difficult to view weight gain as a good think in a society where so many adult people are obsessed with the numbers on a scale. However, in case of children, a certain amount of weight ought to be gained in order to develop properly. There are also certain periods of growth (like adolescence), when it is perfectly normal for a child to store additional fat.

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This is the point when many parents and teens become frightened of obesity and begin with low-fat diet, which can become a lifetime battle.A way of rearing healthy children is helping them form a good, positive relationship with their food. Natural, unprocessed fats can be highly beneficial if used in moderation. The same applies to proteins as well as carbohydrates. We don’t want to severely overindulge or limit in these types of food, too. The goal is to strive for moderation while at the same time making natural, healthy choices. Children should learn that quality foods are to be enjoyed for both their necessity for life and their taste.

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