Healthy Eating Start Early

Thursday, February 17, 2011 - 10:45am

Pediatricians say establishing healthy eating habits early can help later in life.

Healthy eating habits start at an early age.

Experts say what you feed your child now could have an impact on his health for the rest of his or her life.

As a pediatrician at Connecticut's St. Francis Hospital, Lisa Menillo works with parents to instill healthy eating habits and it starts early on.

"There's lots of reasons why babies cry. They're not always hungry. So it's important not to feed for comfort because a lot of us have gotten into this bad habit of turning to food or some of us when we want comfort and that's sort of a bad habit to start early on," she says.

That is happening, and more kids are obese than ever.

The American Dietetics Association calls it's latest report a wake up call for parents.

Of almost 1,200 families surveyed, it revealed 17-percent of children obese, but most of the children were actually malnourished, lacking critical nutrients in their diets.

Dr. Menillo says ten year old children are now being tested for adult onset diabetes.

"We're seeing glucose intolerance, which is a precursor to diabetes now in adolescents. Some have diabetes that you used to get only when you were much older," she says.

When children are hungry for meals and snacks, Dr. Menillo says head to the refrigerator instead of the cupboard.

"Offering fruits and vegetables at every meal is very important and that should start happening from early on," she says.

She recommends avoiding feeding children processed food.

Reading the labels is critical.

Fat should just be 30 percent of the calories, saturated fat ten percent.

Carbohydrates 60 percent of the calories, protein ten, and fiber 11.5 percent of a daily diet of about 2,000 calories.

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