Junk Food Babies

Medical researchers have long noticed a growing trend of obesity in the American adult population. Now scientists think they've honed in on the cause: U.S. infants are being raised on French fries and sugary soft drinks instead of nutritious foods like milk.

Popular Fries

A recent survey examined the nutritional habits of 3000 babies between the ages of 4-24 months. Scientists were shocked to discover very little difference between their diets and those of much older children. The infants' diets were heavy on candy, soda pop, and junk food, with nary a trace of nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables.

Speaking at a conference for the American Dietetic Association, researcher Dr. Kathleen Reidy commented, "French fries are the most popular vegetable eaten by children 19 to 24 months old. Twenty to 25 per cent of these kids did not eat a single healthy vegetable on the day of the survey, and 25 to 30 per cent did not eat a single fruit."

Chubby Babies

Reidy's team found that mothers were putting soft drinks into infant feeding bottles for babies as young as seven months, while the diets of toddlers between the ages of 19 and 24 months included daily sweets, with some having candy more than once a day. The trend of giving junk food to infants has resulted in an alarming statistic: Some 10-15% of preschool children between the ages of 2-5 are overweight.

This study was conducted under the combined auspices of the Mathematica Policy Research of Princeton, New Jersey, infant food manufacturer Gerber Corporation, and the Tufts University School of Medicine. The results of this study were published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Parent Education

Reidy believes such findings show a need for parent education about child nutrition and a greater awareness of how a baby's diet impacts on his future health. Parents may not even realize just how much of their infants' diets are taken up with junk food. The researcher would like parents to take stock by examining their infants' daily diets to really see what they're eating.

Reidy feels that because parents are busier than ever, they have no time to prepare nutritious meals and so they use convenience foods to fill the food gap. Parents don't have time to prepare and eat healthy meals so they grab something on the run. The unfortunate fact is that they're feeding their kids the same way.

Dr. Reidy says that parents need to be role models and if they can change their own diets, this will encourage their children to eat in healthier ways.