5 Surprising Kids Food Facts Revealed in 2010

FYI Living Kids’ Health has provided readers with hundreds of articles this year giving parents powerful knowledge that they can apply to improve their children’s health and well-being.  Here is a list of Five Surprising Food Facts we revealed in 2010:

1. Cartoon Characters on Food Labels Encourages Your Child to Eat More Junk
Any parent who grocery shops with their child knows that kids want foods packaged with their favorite characters’ names and faces.  But in FYI Living’s article “SpongeBob Makes Junk Food Taste Better,” we shared two surprising facts: 1) kids believe high-calorie, low-nutrient food packaged with familiar characters actually tastes better than the same items in plain packaging, and 2) unfortunately, the placement of characters on non-junk food items (like carrots) doesn’t have the same effect.

2. Many Baby and Toddler Foods Contain Unhealthy Levels of Sodium and Sugar

The Scary Truth Inside Baby Food,” revealed the details of a study which analyzed food products marketed for babies and toddlers.  Of the 186 products analyzed in the study, more than 60% contained unacceptably high levels of sodium, sugar or both.Nutrition levels in baby foods are of paramount importance, as taste preferences formed in babies and toddlers have been shown to affect their food preferences as adults.  Given the results of this study, parents of babies and toddlers might be surprised to discover that they need to be as vigilant about reading the labels on products they buy for the under two set as they are for products they buy for themselves.

3. Chocolate Milk is Better Than No Milk
As the chocolate milk debate raged at the start of the school year, FYI Living expert and Registered Dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman weighed in with a strong –- and perhaps surprising — vote for chocolate milk. While Freuman does not recommend introducing sweetened, flavored milks (or other drinks) to toddlers or preschool-aged children at home, many school-aged children are faced with the choice every day. Parents can rest easy, however, as Freuman believes that in the long run, “The bone-building benefits of milk’s calcium — even if it contains sugar — outweigh the drawbacks of its additional calories and sugar.” Read Freuman’s entire article here. 4. Fast Food Knowledge Is Power–and Health
Knowing the nutritional content of fast food won’t make it more nutritious for your family – but research has shown that this knowledge can lead to better choices.  A study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics and covered in our “How Chain Restaurant Label Laws Help Children” article showed that when parents were aware of the nutritional content of fast food, they selected meals for their children that were an average of 102 fewer calories than the meals chosen by parents without access to nutritional information. 

5. Sports Drinks are as Unhealthy as Sodas–But Many Teens Remain Uninformed
Recent media coverage has shined a light on sugary sports drinks as being just as unhealthy as soda – yet a study covered in FYI Living’s “The Sugary Truth Behind Sports Drinks and Teens” shows that even teens who eat well and exercise still mistakenly believe that sports drinks support their healthy lifestyles.Marketers advertise these drinks in a way that associates them with a healthy lifestyle, and unfortunately, teens are still buying into this marketing myth.

Creating healthy eating habits in children can be a daunting task in this age of heavy marketing to children and teens, and the convenience of fast food in the busy lives of many families.  We hope these Top 5 Surprising Food Facts and FYI Living’s many other Kids Health articles will continue to help readers make the best nutrition choices for their families.

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1 Comment

  • As a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Sports Nutritionist, I appreciate Susan’s trying to shed some light on common nutrition myths and pitfalls. However, regarding the comment above concerning , “The Sugary Truth Behind Sports Drinks and Teens”, it is important to remember that sports drinks are not the same as sodas, and do serve a distinct and useful purpose in hydrating our active teens who need the calories, carbs and electrolytes they provide in order to perform well and stay on top of their game. Instead of focusing negatively on teens perception of sports drinks, I believe that we should be encouraging our teens (and adults for that matter) to join in the healthy lifestyle of beign active and using sports drinks such as Gatorade to replinish the fluids, carbs and electrolytes they loose to sweat when working out.
    If we build upon the association teens have with health and sports drinks rather than bash it, and stress that the exercise component is cornerstone to their health, it just might help us fight the obesity epedemic and get our teens up and moving more!
    -Lauren Antonucci, MS,RD,CSSD,CDE,CDN

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