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Take another look in that lunch box

Take another look in that lunch box

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A veteran nutritionist has appealed to parents to take another look at the juices they are packing in their children’s lunch bags. Louise Allen warns that the juices that are advertised as healthy and “made from real fruit juice” are in fact not good for your young children.

A whole range of health problems including diabetes could plague these children throughout life.{{more}}

Allen told SEARCHLIGHT HEALTH that parents believed that if they did not give their children sodas but opted instead for juices that they were going for the “healthy choice”.

However she said if one checked the nutritional value of both the popular boxed juices as well as canned drinks, it should shed some interesting light.

Allen said that most of the popular juices contained as much of 42 grams or about six table spoons of sugar per can or box – that is at least four tablespoons too much sugar for a primary school age child.

“These high sugar beverages provide very little nutrients besides calories and can promote tooth decay.” Allen said.

Having also worked in New York and the US Virgin islands, Allen was concerned about the increased number of secondary school children in St Vincent with diabetes.

In view of the fact that our local population has the genetic tendency to develop hypertension and diabetes, Allen made clear the need for prudence, limiting our excessive intake of sugars and salt.

The Arnos Vale-based dietician said that parents cannot use any excuse of lack of finance when it comes with giving children the healthier juices. She commented that St Vincent is blessed with a variety of fruit and strongly encouraged parents to try fresh home made fruit drinks with small amounts of sugar. She stressed the importance of leaving the fiber rich pulp in the juice rather than straining it as most people do.

A child’s general health has a lot to do with his or her pattern of eating meals on a daily basis and Allen stressed that children are more willing to eat healthy foods and be active if they see their parents and other family members doing likewise. Studies have continually shown that unhealthy eating habits and inadequate physical activity developed in youths could persist through adulthood.

Allen, a member of the American Dietetic Association, also had some advice as it regards breakfast time for school children. She challenged parents to be creative with what ever little they may have, pointing to several readily available local products that can be very useful.

Porridges made from corn meal and even banana can set a child right to face a hectic day of concentration at school.

She suggested that products like sardine be used rather than sausages with some bread on the side. One tin of sardines, with the bones is rich in calcium, equivalent to one eight ounce glass of milk. Sausages have high salt and fat content.

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