Originally published Monday, June 19, 2017 at 05:55a.m.

In my last tip the question “How do I eat what I need to eat to get my weight under control when the family eats the “good stuff” around me?” was addressed.

I wanted to touch on a little bit more about point #3.

We find more and more processed foods containing high levels of fat, salt and sugar. What happens when we consume a lot of those ingredients?

Childhood is the best time to start heart healthy eating habits, but adult goals for cutting back on total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol are not meant generally for children younger than 2 years.

Fat is an Essential Nutrient for Children

Fat supplies calories children need for growth and active play and should not be severely restricted.

A diet high in saturated fats can cause health problems, including heart disease later in life. Saturated fats are usually found in fatty meats like beef, pork, ham, veal, and lamb and dairy products like whole milk, cheese and ice cream.

For that reason, after age 2 children should be served foods that are lower in fat and saturated fats.

In general, fats should make up less than 30 percent of the calories in your child’s diet, with no more than about one-third or fewer of those fat calories coming from saturated fat and the remainder from unsaturated (polyunsaturated or monounsaturated) fats, which include vegetable oils like corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean and olive.

Some parents find the information about various types of fat confusing. In general, oils and fats derived from animal origin are saturated. The simplest place to start is merely to reduce the amount of fatty foods of all types in your family’s diet. 

Salt

Researchers have found a relationship between dietary salt and high blood pressure. High blood pressure afflicts about 25 percent of adult Americans and contributes to heart attacks and strokes.

There’s now evidence to show that a high salt intake in children also influences blood pressure and may predispose an individual to the development of a number of diseases including: high blood pressure, osteoporosis, respiratory illnesses such as asthma, stomach cancer and obesity.

There is evidence that dietary habits in childhood and adolescence influence eating patterns in later life.

Liking salt and salty foods is a learned taste preference and the recommendation that the adult population reduce their sodium intake will be more successful if children do not develop a preference for salt. This can be achieved if children are given a diet low in salt.

Simple changes can be made to a child’s diet to ensure they don’t consume too much salt. Giving them healthy snacks such as fruit and yogurt rather than chips, swapping ham and cheese sandwiches for chicken or tuna, never adding salt to their food and checking labels of products such as sauces, bread and cereal can all help to reduce the salt intake of children.

A high salt intake can cause calcium losses which can lead to bone demineralization and significantly increase the risk of osteoporosis, a bone condition causing fragility and breakages. Osteoporosis is most common amongst older people, studies have shown that the effect of salt on calcium metabolism can be detected in children and continue in to adult life. This increases the risk of osteoporosis later in life, particularly for girls.

Thank you for reading Diet Center’s tip of the week.

If you are struggling with issues like these please let Diet Center help you 928-753-5066.