Obese toddlers more likely to be iron deficient

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals that of the 960 U.S. kids aged 1 to 3 studied, 20 percent of those who were overweight suffered from iron deficiency. Lack of iron in the blood reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the body and can lead to mental and behavioral delays.

Underscoring the importance of developing healthy eating habits at a young age, experts say this iron deficiency is a result of parents letting toddlers drink cow's milk and juice instead of feeding them solid foods such as iron-rich meat, beans, eggs, spinach and fortified breads. While that sounds a bit harsh, the study revealed that kids in daycare settings were 50 percent less likely to have iron deficiency, probably due to the fact that daycare providers are more focused on nutrition.

Dr. Geoffrey Allen, of Chicago's Children Memorial Hospital, says it is important to test young children for iron deficiency. "It's amazing how anemic children can be and still run around and play," Allen said. "It can be hard to detect mild and moderate anemia."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.