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    Home arrow 5 A Day arrow Fruit and veg and childrens health

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Fruit and vegetables and childrens health

Every child deserves a healthy start in life. Health at the very beginning of life is the foundation for health throughout life. Diet is central to health, and children’s diet can be an important influence on their health now and in the future. A healthy diet is one that is rich in fruit and vegetables and cereals, and low in fat, salt and sugar. A good diet in childhood helps ensure that children grow well and helps protect them against chronic diseases in later life.

Growing children need more nutrients

Young children need adequate nutrients for growth and development and nutritional experts have found that, relative to body weight, their nutrient requirements are higher than adults. But

Kids eating a "healthy" lunch
their calorie requirements are lower so they need to eat foods which provide a lot of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) for their calories. Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and can improve the nutrient density of the diet.

Adult diseases begin in childhood

Many of the processes linked with the development of cardiovascular disease begin in childhood and the early stages of cancer development may be initiated many years before there are any detectable signs. Evidence from the Bogalusa Heart Study, tracking early risk of heart disease among children in the United States 10 , suggests that good eating habits in childhood have a potential to reduce risk factors and lower the risk of heart disease in later life.

Asthma and Wheezing
Asthma now affects one in seven school children in the United Kingdom, and research indicates that rates among under five year olds has almost doubled in less than a decade. Researchers have found that eating fruit and vegetables seems to improve lung function 12, 13 and reduces the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis among children as well as adults.
A study in Italy among children has found that even low intakes of fruit, for example, eating citrus or kiwi fruit several times a week, can reduce wheezing and the symptoms of asthma. The effects are most noticeable in children with a history of respiratory problems.


Bunch of fruit
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Obesity levels among adults in England have almost tripled since 1980. Studies suggest that up to one in ten (10%) six year
olds may now be obese, and that this represents a doubling in the past 10 years. A diet which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables can help in tackling obesity.

Improves whole diet and child health
Studies in adults find that when people eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables, their consumption of fatty or sugary foods can decline. Eating fruit and juices rich in vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant sources and can help reduce iron deficiency (anaemia).
A study of British school children found that children who ate fruit more than once a day had better lung function compared with those who did not.The difference was evident even after controlling for possible confounding factors such as social class and passive smoking.

Children should begin to eat more fruit and vegetables from the age of two, so that by the time they are five years old they fully meet the target of ‘at least five a day’.
COMA 1994

One small orange or one kiwi fruit provides all the vitamin C a child needs in a day.



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