Effects of Junk Food on Your Children

As a nation, we love junk food. Chicken burgers, fried chicken, nuggets, chips and that old favourite – cheesy Pizza. However you look at it, the junk food options that are available to us are endless. And even in the face of an economic crisis, we’re still tucking in and giving it to our children, who do not always understand the health consequences of their eating habits.

Junk food may appear especially appetizing and regular consumption of junk food can be addictive for children. The Dietitians Association of Australia says the average Australian spends at least 15 per cent of their food budget on takeaways.

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According to market researcher BIS Shrapnel, the figure is actually much higher. Its recent report shows that, for every dollar spent on food and non-alcoholic drink in Australia, 44 cents is splashed on fast food. That’s an awful lot of burgers.

So, what is junk food anyway?

We actually don’t like the phrase ‘Junk Food’. Most foods can be enjoyed in moderation, if you are following a healthy diet regimen for your kids or choose the healthy alternative; that’s what I believe.

So, junk food is a useful term that everyone understands when talking about certain foods with little or zero nutritional value. This group typically includes:

Processed foods

– Packaged foods

– Convenient foods

These are high in saturated fat, sodium and sugar, as well as foods (and some drinks) from takeaway and fast-food outlets, drive-throughs or chain stores. Indeed, fast food is often high in fat and any one may even contain more than half your daily fat allowance and nearly all of your saturated fat allowance.

Junk food and ADHD in children

Perth researchers have linked Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with “western style” highly processed, fried and take away foods in teenage sufferers.

“The Telethon Institute for Child Health & Research Study” examined the diets of 1,800 adolescents, categorising them as either eating a healthy mix of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish or the “western style” foods.

The findings, which will be published in the “Journal of Attention Disorders” and is currently online, showed teenagers who lived on a diet of highly processed foods more than doubled their risk of being diagnosed with ADHD, compared to healthy eaters.

In Australia alone there are 36,000 people diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a problem that scientists say could be cured simply by changing diet.

Looking at the potential physical and psychologoical side effects of junk food, the kicking and screaming don’t even compare.

effect of junk food_2

Obesity issues

According to a statement released by the journal “Nature Neuroscience” in 2010, high calorie food can be addictive, causing children who occasionally eat fast food to learn problematic patterns of eating. These factors were found to place children who regularly ate fast food at increased risk for obesity.

Not just obesity issues

If you are one of those parents who always gives in to their child’s tantrums when it comes to junk food, think twice! And it’s not only because of the weight gaining issues.

Data from “Growing Up In Australia”, the longitudinal study of Australian children, found that high consumption of fatty, sugary and highly processed foods contributed to bad behaviour and learning difficulties in children.

According to the findings, junk food stops the brain from working properly, which may lead to underachievement and a host of disorders. Furthermore, it lacks the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that are needed to boost brainpower and improve concentration.

Low self-esteem and depression

Nutritionist at MayoClinic.com report eating junk food can potentially cause depression on its own. According to the journal “American Family Physician”, depression can be very dangerous for children, cause negative impacts on growth, development, performance in school and social relationships and can ultimately lead to suicide.

Children growth on chemicals

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), children born today have a one in 600 chance of developing cancer by age ten and the overall incidence of childhood cancer increased 10.8% between 1973 and 1990.

Cancer now kills more children under the age of 15 than any other disease. In particular, brain tumors are the leading form of cancer amongst children in Australia. Then, there is heart disease, which not only affects the elderly, but also the young. Autism, Asperges, ADHD are destroying the basic family unit. Asthma and allergies restrict young lives.

That’s astonishing? Or is it?

Did you ever pay heed? What are we feeding our children’s bodies and minds that are making them so sick? Who’s responsible for this horror?

Science has proclaimed over the years that salt causes hypertension, sugar causes diabetes, butter causes heart disease, eggs cause high cholesterol, raw milk is dangerous and should be banned, infant formulas are better than breast milk, fruits and vegetables don’t help prevent cancer and the list goes on…

Anything that was natural they saw as a danger to human health. And so in their naivety (or was it their arrogance?) science and technology believed they could make things better, so they made these processed, packaged and convenient foods.

For 25 to 30 years the general public, which has been bombarded with propaganda, persuasive advertising and untruths, has taken these foods into their homes and into their kids mouths without question.

Reducing the chemical load

So try to give your children foods that have no additives, preservatives, flavorings or numbers. Food in their least processed state, choose healthy alternatives. Buy organic or chemical free as much as possible. Give them fruits and vegetables.

 

The pursuit of your children’s health is an ongoing, lifelong process. You either spend a bit of time now looking after their health, or you spend a lot of time later in life looking after their illness. So think before you give them anything to eat.

Before you put a piece of any food into your child’s mouth, ask yourself: “Is it healthy? Free of chemicals and natural food? And is it good for my child’s growth?”

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