Nutrition plays an important role in a child’s health, and parents are aware of it, but they are not always successful in implementing a diet that promotes their child’s overall health. Children are picky eaters and some do not like to experiment with their diet. There are many reasons why junk food is attractive to them. The high salt, sugar and fat content in them boosts the release of dopamine, making us crave more of such foods. Traditional foods such as dalchawal, roti sabzi and fruits are less appealing as they may not satisfy the palate in the same way. (Also read: What Happens If You Eat Peaches Every Day, 6 Health Risks From Eating Too Much Of This Street Food)
The problem with junk foods like pizza, burgers and chips is that they lack important vitamins, minerals, fiber and other essential nutrients that can support a child’s physical and mental development. They may also contain preservatives that can be even more harmful to your health. Eating junk food several times a week can lead to nutritional deficiencies and an increased risk of chronic disease in the future.
“Childhood obesity and related health problems have become a worrying problem in recent years. A large part of this epidemic is the consumption of junk foods, which are highly processed and caloric. High-fat, low-nutrition foods have permeated children’s diets, putting their overall health at risk.As a parent, understanding which junk foods to limit or avoid is critical. , can play a pivotal role in protecting children’s health,” nutritionist Anupama Menon told HT Digital in an interview.
To combat these negative effects of junk food, eat fiber-rich cereals, legumes, soybeans, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds. You can do this by keeping junk food out of your home and creating interesting recipes from the ingredients.
Nutrition has a huge impact on a child’s cognitive health, immune system, metabolic health and other vital functions, says Soumendu Ghosh, consultant nutritionist and lifestyle counselor at Golf View Healthcare & Research Institute.
“In today’s fast-paced world, the lure of junk food is looming large. Junk food is easily available, affordable, and often an easy solution for busy parents. Unfortunately, these of foods are high in cholesterol, excess sugar, empty calories, high sodium content, and high in artificial substances.”Contains colorings, preservatives, and lacks essential nutrients. As a result, , children, especially the younger generation, are increasingly drawn to these unhealthy options, which can put their health at risk,” Ghosh said in an interview with HT Digital.
What happens when a child eats too much junk food
“The impact of excessive junk food consumption is alarming. India is currently at the forefront of childhood obesity, trailing China and the United States.Most obese children are insulin resistant. This epidemic is having serious health consequences as they are prone to diabetes, PCOS, high cholesterol levels and fatty liver disease.In addition, regular consumption of junk food can lead to poor concentration and mood in children. It can lead to distraction and poor concentration, so it’s important to watch the junk foods your kids eat to keep them healthy,” says Ghosh.
Below is a list of junk foods that slowly but surely affect your child’s health.
Ghosh suggests eliminating the following foods from your child’s diet:
1. Sugary breakfast cereals
Some cereals marketed to children are as unhealthy as eating cakes and pastries for breakfast. They are often high in sugar and empty calories and have minimal nutritional value. Careful scrutiny of ingredient labels is essential.
2. Instant noodles
These seemingly convenient meals contain excess salt and may lack essential nutrients. Their white noodles are low in fiber and their seasonings often contain harmful chemicals.
3. potato chips
Chips are delicious, but they can contain harmful substances such as acrylamide, which is linked to cancer. Excessive intake can lead to various health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
4. Chicken nuggets or chicken fingers
These children’s favorite menus contain many ingredients and are often fried in oil with additives. A homemade version with whole grain bread crumbs is a healthier alternative. It’s important to be aware of the ingredients in some fast foods, as some contain additives such as tertiary butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ) that can have adverse effects if consumed in excess. Another common additive, dimethylpolysiloxane, acts as a defoamer and is found in food as well as non-edible products.
Anupama Menon adds to the list of junk foods to keep children from overeating.
5. sweet drinks
Sugary drinks such as sodas, fruit juices, and energy drinks have added sugars and little or no nutritional value. Artificial sweeteners are sometimes included to enhance the taste and claim to be a low-calorie drink. These drinks cause excess calorie intake, leading to weight gain and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Choose water, milk, or natural fruit-infused water for a healthier alternative.
6. Fried food
Fried foods like potato chips and French fries are loaded with unhealthy trans fat, sodium and calories. Not only do these snacks lead to weight gain, they also increase your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Replace these with air-popped popcorn, baked sweet potato fries, or whole grain crackers for a healthier crunch.
7. Candies and Sweets
Candy, chocolate, and other sweet treats are a major source of empty calories, promoting weight gain and dental problems. A rapid rise in blood sugar can lead to low energy and a preference for overly sweet foods. Encourage your child to enjoy fruit as a natural and nutritious way to satisfy their sweet tooth.
8. Processed meat
Sausages, hot dogs, cooked meats, and frozen nuggets are highly processed meats that contain preservatives, additives, and high levels of sodium. Regular consumption is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Choose lean, unprocessed protein sources such as grilled chicken, fish, and freshly cut meats.
9. Packaged Snack Food
Many packaged snack foods like cookies, crackers, and granola bars are high in refined flour, sugar, and unhealthy fats. These foods are deficient in essential nutrients and rarely feel full, leading to overeating. Choose whole food snacks like fresh fruit, veggies with hummus, and homemade trail mix to keep your little one energized and satisfied.
10. Burgers and pizza
Fast food burgers and pizza are typically high in saturated fat, sodium, and calories. Regular consumption can lead to weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels, and increased risk of heart disease. For a more nutritious alternative, consider making a homemade burger with lean meat or plant-based patties or whole-wheat pizza dough topped with veggies.
“As a parent, your role in shaping your child’s eating habits is critical to their long-term health. Seeking nutritious foods, fostering positive relationships with whole foods, and providing education about the importance of balanced nutrition can protect children from the negative effects of their choices. It goes a long way in promoting overall health and well-being, which will have a positive impact on your child’s future,” says Menon.
“In this age of convenience, it is imperative that we prioritize the health of our children by making informed dietary choices and limiting their exposure to junk food. Together we can fight childhood obesity. We can combat the rising number of people and secure a healthier future,” added Ghosh.