Pizza contributes to higher calorie, saturated fat and sodium intake in children’s and teens’ diets. And as the second largest contributor to calorie and nutrient intake in children’s diets, its impact on maintaining healthy weight is important. The authors of the study, “Energy and Nutrient Intake from Pizza in the United States,” appearing in the February 2015 issue of Pediatrics, (published online Jan. 19) examined dietary recall data from a period of several years for children age 2 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19. On the days pizza is consumed, it makes up more than 20 percent of the daily intake of calories. Plus, overall calorie intake for that day is much higher. Since dietary counseling is more effective if focused on specific foods, rather than overall nutrients, and pizza plays a prominent role in children’s overall diet, the authors suggest that pizza be directly addressed in nutrition counseling. And because pizza is available from multiple sources (restaurants, fast food, stores and schools), efforts should focus on improving nutritional content and marketing.
Dear Mr. Dad: It seems like every meal in my house is a battle. I try to make healthy, tasty foods and my kids do nothing but complain about it. It seems like all they want to eat is white rice and plain pasta. Why won’t they eat anything else, and what can I do to get them to expand their preferences?
A: Ah, yes, the white food group. I remember it well. Besides rice and pasta, my two oldest kids were flexible enough to include French fries (or, sometimes, a baked potato with sour cream), cheese pizza, fish sticks, and salt. Lots of salt. For a while, I was worried that their limited diet would stunt their growth, but they’re both 5’ 7,” and incredibly healthy. When I think about it, they did eat non-white foods too: peas and carrots were okay (as long as they weren’t touching on the plate), tomatoes (cleverly disguised as pasta sauce), vitamins (in milk), lots of fruit, and even some protein (often fish sticks or chicken nuggets). I’m sure your children’s culinary repertoire is broader than you think. That said, I know I could have done a better job.
We all know that we should be eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and we all know about the many health benefits, including reductions in diabetes, cardiovascular events (heart disease, heart attack, stroke), and even some cancers. Only 11 percent of the U.S. population currently meets the daily targets for vegetable consumption, while just 20 percent meet the guideline for fruit, according to researchers at Yale. Asking people—especially kids—whether they’ve eaten what they’re supposed to produces notoriously inaccurate results. But researchers have discovered that a special laser that measure a compound in the skin can tell exactly how much we’re getting.
Depending on your age, sex, and level of physical activity, we should eat anywhere from 1 cup to 3 cups of fruits and veggies every day. Visually, that’s about half of everything on our plate at every meal. And most of us tend to greatly overestimate how much we’re actually eating. The compound being measured is called carotenoids, and levels vary according to fruit and vegetable intake.
Dear Mr. Dad: My wife continues to breastfeed our two-year-old daughter even though she’s old enough to eat “real” food. I don’t have a problem with this, but some of our friends and even some coworkers are shocked that she’s still breastfeding. Is there a specific age at which you should stop breastfeeding? Are we committing some sort of social faux pas by trying to do right by our daughter?
A: Oh, boy, are you going to cause a firestorm. Deciding whether to breastfeed a baby and for how long, is something only the parents can decide. But, as you’ve noticed, a lot of people have strong opinions on the topic and they’re not afraid to share them—whether you want to hear them or not.
Let’s start with some background. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that, barring any medical problem, babies get nothing but breast milk for the first six months. Then it’s “as long as mutually desired by the mother and child.” Many pediatricians suggest that starting at six months, parents should gradually introduce appropriate food and simultaneously decrease breastfeeding. At the end of a year, most babies will be weaned. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a child nurse for longer than that—as long as you understand that the kind of nutrition if provides is mostly emotional.
I manage and edit a popular men’s health blog, Talking About Men’s Health (talkingaboutmenshealth.com) and am looking for guest bloggers.
My definition of “men’s health” is pretty broad, and includes lifestyle, fitness, nutrition, policy, mental health, physical health, relationships, etc. Pretty much anything as long as it deals with men. We even have pieces aimed at women who are looking for ways to help or better understand men–and for men on how to better understand women.
Please check out the blog and let me know if you’re up for a guest post, a series, or even a regular gig. And feel free to pass this on to anyone you know who might be interested.
Brandi Dion and Steven Dion, coauthors of The Pregnant Athlete.
Topic: How to stay in your best shape ever before, during, and after pregnancy.
Issues: How to gauge your limits as your pregnancy progresses; eating well to support pregnancy and fuel your workouts; common myths and misconceptions about pregnancy; finding the best workout for you.
Johanna Stein, author of How Not to Calm a Baby on a Plane.
Topic: Hilarious, real-life lessons in parenting.
Issues: Going to war against the color pink; calming your child on a plane with a barfbag puppet–that someone else had used; your first emergency room visit; the most embarrassing and satisfying moments of parenthood; why to never play a practical joke in a hospital delivery room.