August 16, 2007

In The News: Sure, Blame Mom

According to this article, women who consume junk food while pregnant may be putting their babies at risk for craving overly sweet and salty snacks as children!

Well, at least that's what researchers in Great Britain's Royal Veterinary College are guessing might occur based on a study they performed on... rats.

Turns out the pregnant rats who had the least healthy diet gave birth to little ones who craved junky snacks.

There is one major flaw with this study, though. Unlike the rats in this study, human babies are not given free reign to eat whatever they please.

Human mothers are instructed to start their babies off with certain foods and slowly introduce new ones with time, not leave a box of Dunkin' Donuts on the counter and see if two-month-old Jessica reaches for them.

If anything, what truly determines the possible pattern of a child's dietary habits as they grow older is what they are fed at home. A toddler living in a household stocked with TV dinners and Doritos bags has no interest in vegetables because he has no idea how they taste.

Similarly, a first grader's daily fruit intake should not be a Fruit Roll-Up.
Of course children should have and enjoy treats, but these formative years are key for introducing them to new foods, flavors, and textures.

Our experiences with food as children have far-reaching consequences, well into our adult lives. Look at your own dietary habits and preferences. Can't many of them be traced back to family traditions and tastes?

In any case, pregnancy is a time when rare cravings can occur, and I would hate for a first-time expecting mother to think her midnight vanilla ice cream and pickle snack is dooming her future child's health.

Once children can be fed a variety of foods, though, mothers should not be discouraged by an initial dislike. It often takes eight or nine tries of a new food (i.e.: broccoli) before a child truly accepts it.

For the record, nutrition authorities aren't putting their eggs into this basket.

For instance, "Dr. Atul Signham, from the Institute of Child Health in London, said he was slightly skeptical about the likely scale of "fetal programming" in a child's diet until it could be proved in human studies."


1 comment:

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