Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Picky eaters may be healthy

The NY Times reports on picky eaters:
"From 1 year of age to about adolescence, there's a dearth of research," said Dr. Stephanie A. Atkinson, a member of a dietary panel at the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

"For children, there are no relationships established between nutrient intake and disease prevention," largely because lifelong studies beginning in childhood are difficult and expensive to conduct, she said. ...

In any case, picky eating does not seem to put children at risk for overall nutritional deficiencies, experts said. Although picky eaters do tend to take in fewer nutrients than more diverse eaters, a majority of American children meet the recommended intakes for most nutrients, according to national data, though there are increasing numbers of malnourished children among low-income families. ...

Researchers say that as onerous as it sounds, parents should expose a child to a food at least 10 times before giving up. Most parents give up after five attempts.

If the battle is staked over vegetables, experts say, give it a rest.

"Nutritionists tend to lump fruits and vegetables together," Dr. Birch said. "But for kids and most of us, these things are not all alike. Kids tend to eat fruits, which have a lot of the same nutrients as vegetables."
Parents of picky eaters often devote a lot of effort to force dietary preferences, but there is no scientific proof that such efforts do any good. Nearly all kids can get a healthy and balanced diet from food that they like.

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