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Well-balanced diet the answer to childhood obesity


9th August, 2008

Teaching children to eat a well-balanced diet is better at stopping adult obesity than diet foods, suggests study.

A new study by scientists at the University of Alberta in Canada may suggest that giving growing children diet foods can lead to obesity in later life. Children may learn to assess the energy value of food using its taste and texture, and may continue eating even when they have consumed sufficient calories if the taste of high-calorie meals has been incorrectly associated with low-calorie alternatives early in life.

Lead researcher Professor David Pierce said that: “Based on what we’ve learned, it is better for children to eat healthy, well-balanced diets with sufficient calories for their daily activities rather than low-calorie snacks or meals”.

The study comes as a Department of Trade report leaked last month revealed that, at current rates, half of all 6-10 year old boys and 1 in 5 girls in the UK will be obese by 2050. Rising obesity and the popularity of dieting has driven an increase in demand for low-calorie products. Between 2005 and 2006, sales of low fat and reduced sugar food and drink rose by 3.8 %.

Neko Griffin from the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme told the Ecologist that children get excited about healthy food when they see how it is prepared, picked or grown. Parents can promote a well-balanced diet by encouraging children to assist in the kitchen, or by taking them on visits to an urban farm or to: “allotment projects or market days”.

Click here to read the Ecologist’s article about nutritious baby food.

You can learn more about the Soil Association’s programme to promote healthy school dinners – Food for Life – by visiting:, or by calling or emailing Neko on 0117 314 5180 or

This article first appeared in the Ecologist August 2007


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