Healthy kid foods - not so healthy

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Mealtime

Anyone who has ever taken a child to the grocery store knows that food marketers who target children know their stuff. Sugary cereals are on the bottom shelf, and beloved cartoon characters adorn box after box of chewy, gooey, treats. Though marketers are well-schooled on attracting children to their products, they also know what parents want as well.

That's probably why, when researchers went looking, they discovered that 8% of nutritionally poor foods marketed to kids made some sort of health claim (think "High in vitamin C!" on fruit snacks). Others took a more subliminal approach, such as cartoon characters playing sports. Parents want to feed their children healthy, nutritious foods, so these claims may make parents feel comfortable in their food choices. The problem is, many of these foods usually contain far too much sugar, fat, or salt to make them good, every day choices for kids to eat.

Looking for examples? Time magazine has a gallery of nine kid foods to avoid. Most won't surprise you (does anyone really believe that Fruit by the Foot is a health food?), but some might. Goldfish crackers, for instance, are especially high in salt. Sunny D is loaded with sugar. And Earth's Best Organic Waffles have too much fat.

In our family, the biggest grocery store battles are fought over anything with a Disney Princess or Barbie on the box, and surprisingly, bologna (she loves it, I think it's disgusting). Kids can be taught to balance their diet between healthy food choices and the occasional treat, but parents have to work hard in today's world to educate the entire family on what exactly makes up a healthy meal or snack.

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