By Dr. Mercola
As a parent, one of the best gifts you can give your child is a strong nutritional start. The first years of life represent a time of rapid development, during which your child’s language, cognitive, social and motor skills are developed.
During the first three years of life, the brain also grows at its fastest rate, and this represents a crucial window of development during which proper nutrition is essential.
If your child does not get healthy foods (and ideally breast milk) during this time, his future intelligence could be impacted.
A 2010 study1 revealed just how big an impact a poor nutritional start can have on your kids. Those who ate a predominantly processed food diet at age 3 had lower IQ scores at age 8.5. For each measured increase in processed foods, participants had a nearly two point decrease in IQ.
As you might suspect, the opposite also held true, with those eating healthier diets experiencing higher IQ levels.
As a parent, it is important to carefully consider the types of foods you give your child at home and in restaurants, as research has shown that repeated exposure builds taste preferences very quickly.
Potentially reduced IQ is not the only health risk your child faces if he eats a diet consisting mainly of processed foods and snacks.
A junk food diet can also set the stage for obesity, asthma, eczema, and a variety of allergies, behavioral problems—from hyperactivity to aggression—as well as inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases. In fact, many of the top diseases plaguing the United States are diet-related, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The National Institutes of Health even states that four of the six leading causes of death in the US are linked to unhealthy diets.
So the importance of proper nutrition simply cannot be overstated. Yet despite all this knowledge, food and beverage companies and even supplement makers are foisting products on children that are FAR from health-promoting, making your role as an educated parent all the more important…
Girl Scolds McDonald’s CEO
At a recent shareholder meeting, nine-year old Hannah Robertson had some pointed questions for Don Thompson, CEO of McDonald’s Corp2.
Something that I don’t think is fair is when big companies try to trick kids into eating food that isn’t good for them by using toys and cartoon characters,” Hannah told the attendees at the meeting. If parents haven’t taught their kids about healthy eating then the kids probably believe that junk food is good for them because it might taste good… I make cooking videos with my mom that show kids that eating healthy can be fun and yummy. We teach them that eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies makes kids healthier, smarter and happier because that is the truth… Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and happy life? Thompson’s reply? … [W]e don’t sell junk food, Hannah,” he said. He also denied marketing to children. His response left her unimpressed, and rightfully so, if you ask me. Children are clearly a primary market for McDonald’s. In fact, America’s 52 million kids under the age of 12 represent one of the most powerful markets for American businesses, influencing adult spending worth $700 billion a year.
Children age 2-11 now see an average of more than 10 television food ads per day, and 98 percent of food advertisements viewed by children are for products that are high in fat, sugar or sodium, like McDonald’s and other fast food joints.