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Kids Can Be Taught to Cut Down on Unhealthy Food

June 1, 2005

Getting kids to eat foods that are good for them, that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, is an ongoing challenge for parents, especially for those whose children have elevated cholesterol.

And even when kids with high cholesterol learn about good nutrition and decrease their intake of unhealthy foods, they still don’t eat enough fruit and won’t give up eating pizza, according to a study in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

The Dietary Intervention Study in Children was conducted by Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and researchers from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The study analyzed self-reported diets of nearly 600 children aged 8 to 10 years and followed up on the children over the course of three years. All of the kids had elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol.

Results of the study found that children in an intervention group – those who had participated in behavioral and nutritional education sessions – increased their intake of healthy foods in all food groups, except fruit.

The children also decreased their intake of unhealthy foods in all food groups except pizza.

Intake of fruits and vegetables was lower than recommended for both groups of children.

The authors noted that snacks, desserts and pizza made up approximately one third of the daily calorie intake in all of the participants.

Despite these findings, the study showed that children could be taught to choose healthier versions of these food groups.

“In addition, greater access to lower-fat, whole-grain and/or vegetarian-style pizza in this age group could also improve overall dietary quality and help reduce total dietary fat, saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing dietary fiber as well,” the authors offered.

Topics: Research