Obesity rates are on the rise globally. 18.2% of South African children aged 2 to 5 years are overweight. Overweight or obese children have an increased risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and certain cancers earlier in life and are more likely to remain obese throughout their adult life. Not only does obesity have far-reaching health effects for a child, but it also has vast social and economic implications. These can include bullying, teasing and low self-esteem, as well as increased healthcare costs and loss of income later in life.
The rising obesity rate has no doubt, has a lot to do with what our children are eating.
Curious to find an answer, researchers at Duke National University of Singapore investigated the types of foods associated with overweight and obese children using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which recorded the diets and body mass index (BMI) of nearly 4 500 children in England in the 1990s. They found convincing evidence that certain foods might be causing disproportionate harm.
Here are their findings on the worst foods you can feed your children:
- Potato chips
- French fries
- Fried chicken and fish
- Processed meats
- Fatty spreads such as butter
- Any foods with added sugar such as desserts, sweets and sugary drinks
- Refined grains such as bleached flour found in most processed foods
Important to remember
Just because a certain food has more calories, it doesn’t mean it results in more weight gain. “There are foods like potatoes, which aren’t inherently bad for you, because they fill you up. But, when you turn them into French fries and potato chips, they tend to result in weight gain,” said the study’s lead author, Eric Finkelstein, who teaches at the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University in the US.