How can eating habits be changed for kids who get "enough" food, but do not get adequate nutrition?
With the age of processed foods, have come many health problems associated with poor nutrition. Children are eating too many refined sugars and particularly corn syrup which is very unhealthy leading to obesity, type II diabetes and other health problems. High levels of salt intake are contributing to high blood pressure. Many of these processed foods lack the vitamins and minerals present in fresh foods and children can suffer from deficiency diseases. For example, calcium is necessary for the proper growth of the skeletal system. Heart problems have been linked to high fat diets and a sedentary lifestyle. Although in the United States, people eat over 3000 Calories per day, many of these Calories, especially in children are empty Calories, like the ones found in items like soda, sugary cereals and fast food. These eating habits can be changed by following the U.S.D.A. recommended balanced diet guidelines. By eating more fruits and vegetables and fiber, smaller servings of lean protein, eating fats and oils sparingly and having servings in the dairy group, children can improve their diet and overall health.
The advent of fast food has been one major reason, as well as the availability and cheap prices of a lot of the processed foods. These foods are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and calories, but do not have a lot of nutritional value. The more often children eat these kinds of foods, the heavier they are going to be, earlier in life, and the more likely they are to have poor eating habits when they are older. We are seeing a huge increase in childhood obesity rates and Type 2 Diabetes as a result of these trends.
Education of young people using modeling as a method is pretty rare. Most kids can't give detailed answers about nutrition or what a balanced meal is, or the difference between carbs and fat. Kids get way too much sugar and caffeine in the forms of soda and sugary energy and coffee drinks that have little, if any, nutritional value.
I believe that one of the reasons that kids get enough food in general but not enough nutritional food is because of fast food. Many kids eat too much fast food for a variety of reasons. For example, in today's economy many parents are forced to work additional hours and it is easy to stop by a fast food restaurant and grab some quick food for the kids. While intentions may be good, nutritional content is not.
Whatever the reason, these habits can certainly be changed. One of the ways that they can be changed is through education. Not only do children need to learn about what foods are healthy and which foods are not, parents need to learn as well.