Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Beth Wallace

POSTED: Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition | Tips
(iStockphoto)

Whether your child has a sweet tooth or not, parents often have questions about sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that the body uses as a source of energy. Some foods naturally contain sugar like fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose).

Added sugars are the biggest dietary concern because excessive intake of sugar can cause unnecessary weight gain. In children, early excessive weight gain can lead to type 2 diabetes and other adult-type conditions like high triglycerides. 

In recent years, there seems to be a growing list of sweetening options available on grocery store shelves, but here are 5 things you really need to know.

  1. Your child’s body doesn’t know the difference between all of those added sugars.  Whether it’s honey, cane sugar, or plain old white granulated, your child’s body will use each source for energy, and store the excess as fat.  There are some specific medical situations when a child’s body can’t tolerate a certain kind of sugar (fructose or lactose intolerances), but most often, the body won’t differentiate the rest.
  2. Know your sugar terminology.  All of the following are added sugars that can be found in the ingredient list.  Remember, no one is particularly better (or worse) for your child:  Corn syrup, Cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, honey, agave, sucrose, molasses, maple sugar, brown sugar, and raw sugar. 
  3. Other than sweetened beverages, breakfast is one of meals highest in added sugar.  Sweetened breakfast cereals, breakfast pastries, muffins, jelly, syrup…all are common sources of sugar in a child’s diet.  If one of these items is on the menu, consider making some adjustments in the snacks and other meals for the day to balance the diet.  
  4. The food label does not distinguish between added and naturally occurring sugars.  In order to get an idea about how much added sugar the product contains, look at the ingredient list.  Ingredients are listed by weight, so the earliest items in the list are the major components of the product. If sugar or a sweetening product is one of the first three ingredients, leave it on the shelf.
  5. Don’t be fooled by manufacturer’s labels. Recently, companies have started to make their own claims on product packages, but these claims are not often regulated.  Just because the manufacturer tells you it’s a good choice, doesn’t mean it would meet your requirements for a healthy item. Always check the ingredients.
A child’s consumption of sugar sweetened foods and beverages is particularly concerning because these foods may take the place of more healthy foods needed for growth and development. Trying to limit the added sugar in your child’s diet to zero may be impossible, but this is  one true instance where moderation is the golden rule.

POSTED: Monday, February 10, 2014, 1:00 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition
(iStockphoto)

I will be honest with you. I’m not a really productive member of society until I’ve had 16 ounces of coffee. As adults, some of us have a caffeine fix the morning. But should we be concerned that kids are trending towards a serious caffeine addiction with a Starbucks on every corner and a convenience store full of energy drinks?

A new study from Pediatrics released online today evaluated the trends on caffeine intake in American children and adolescents.  Surprisingly, the average caffeine intake hasn’t increased in the last decade. The study found that 63 percent of toddlers and preschool children, and almost 75 percent of older children consumed caffeine daily.  While the overall amount of caffeine intake didn’t change significantly, the sources of caffeine did.  The study reported that the intake of caffeine in children’s diets has decreased from soda, but increased through energy drinks and coffee drinks.  Intake from tea remains the second highest source of caffeine. 

So the big question…is caffeine safe for kids?  Caffeine is a drug found naturally in some plants (think coffee beans and tea leaves), and added to many other drinks (those neon-colored energy drinks).  The myths were dispelled about caffeine intake stunting growth, but the experts still say the answer is a big “no.”  The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine for all children in adolescents, and the United States has no guidance on the amount of caffeine that is safe for children. 

POSTED: Thursday, January 30, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition | Tips

Doesn’t it seem like one of the fastest growing nutrition product markets has been the “milk” industry in the past five years? I am 100 percent confident that in my childhood, I never saw a commercial for almond milk.

No longer do parents walk into the grocery store and choose between skim and 2 percent milks. Now there are so many options ranging from organic and lactose free to non-animal derived sources like almond or rice milk. The variety has become slightly overwhelming. With growing concerns about allergies and the safety of our food sources, parents are left staring at the refrigerated section wondering which milk is best for their families. 

It is important to be an informed consumer when choosing a milk product in order to maximize the vitamins and minerals in your child’s diet.  First things first, you should know what nutrients are important to compare in each of these items.  Historically, traditional cow’s milk has been a major source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D for children over the age of 1, and the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend transition to whole milk (and in some cases 2 percent) for children between the ages of 1 and 2 years old.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition
A quarter for a carrot? (iStockphoto)

Parents have tried it all when it comes to getting their children to eat vegetables, and it seems that there is no end to their creativity. After making them into fries, hiding them in desserts, and sometimes begging for their consumption, it seems like there is no consistent way to ensure that your children are eating the recommended 1 to 3 cups of fresh vegetables daily to provide the necessary nutrients for their growing bodies.

A recent study from Brigham Young University and Cornell in Public Health Nutrition took a bit of a creative risk in finding a solution to the lack of veggie consumption by paying children to eat their vegetables. Yes, literally paying children. The study, aimed to determine if children would be motivated to eat more of the vegetables designated by the new federal school lunch regulations, offered children a nickel, quarter, or a raffle ticket towards a larger prize if they consumed the vegetables served to them.

Research suggests that a new federal rule has prompted the nation’s schools to serve an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables each day, but it's also been found that about $3.8 million of that ends up in the garbage daily. The authors found that the small rewards induced big results: it increased vegetable consumption by 80 percent, and reduced waste by 33 percent. 

POSTED: Wednesday, November 13, 2013, 5:30 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition | Viruses
(iStockphoto)

In the last several weeks, it’s become quite evident that viral season is upon us.  With the turn in the weather comes a rise in both respiratory and gastrointestinal (stomach) viruses.   Though it would be impossible to eliminate all viruses coming your child’s way, frequent hand washing, getting enough sleep, and proper nutrition is essential in helping their immune system resist a cold or stomach virus. 

There isn’t one single food that has been proven in warding off all viruses, but the combination of these foods below can help in giving your child’s immune system a fighting chance.

Five Foods to Fight Viruses

  1. Low-fat Yogurt: Much of our body’s immune protection comes from our intestinal tract.  Yogurt is a natural source of probiotics which helps to promote healthy intestinal barrier to resist harmful bacteria.  Though the exact connection is not exactly understood, several studies have found that children who ate yogurt daily had a reduction in respiratory viruses.
  2. Sweet Potatoes: These delicious dinner additions are a rich source of Vitamin A.  It has long been known that Vitamin A deficiency in adults and children has been associated with decreased immune function.  Vitamin A is also a key component in maintaining healthy skin, which is our body’s biggest defense organ. 
  3. Lean Beef: Sometimes I think beef gets a bad rap.  Beef is rich in zinc and protein, both of which are important for healthy cells.  Zinc deficiency has been associated with poor immunologic function, and just 2 ounces of lean beef will provide 50 percent of a 4-8 year old child’s needs.  Vegetarian?  Fortified cereals that contain at least 3 mg of zinc per serving are a good choice.
  4. Kiwi:  If I told you that this little green fruit packs more Vitamin C than an orange, would you believe me?  Well, you should.  Tasty, nutrient-dense, and easy on the budget during the winter season, Kiwi is really a “superfood” from many angles.  While eating enough vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, some research suggests that adequate intake can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.   
  5. Water:  As simple as can be, water helps the body make sure that all systems are working as efficiently as possible, and helps to eliminate waste as needed.  Tack it on as another reason to avoid soda, sports drinks, and juice; nothing is a better hydrator for your children than water. 
POSTED: Friday, October 18, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Recipes

Turn up the flavor and nutrition on your classic potato wedges with this week’s recipe.  Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, important for eye sight, as well as healthy teeth and skin. They are also a source of Vitamin C, fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals.

Sweet Potato Spears

POSTED: Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition
(iStockphoto)

Editor's Note: We would like to thank the readers who have submitted questions to Healthy Kids! Our experts will periodically answer questions in their areas of expertise.

Question:

My 4-year-old daughter is a picky eater. She loves oatmeal, Greek yogurt and fruit, but it is really difficult to get protein into her. She eats PB&J every day. She will begrudgingly eat a scrambled egg, and she’ll eat edamame. It's a fight to get her to eat Quorn veggie chicken nuggets (prefers over real) or fish sticks, but I do make her eat each at least once a week. I’ve tried different brands and flavors (organic). Chicken or turkey breast is a no way. I don't want to give her red meat or pork and she has never wanted to eat it anyway.  

POSTED: Friday, October 4, 2013, 9:42 AM
Filed Under: Beth Wallace | Nutrition | Recipes
(via peta.org.)

What’s my secret favorite big-game indulgence? Wings. And being from upstate New York, I like to fancy myself as somewhat of a buffalo wing aficionado. Since it’s not a great idea to be eating fried chicken wings on a regular basis, this recipe is the best of both worlds:  a serving of vegetables and enough flavor to satisfy that buffalo wing craving. 

Most kids won’t be willing to try cauliflower on its’ own, however, this buffalo cauliflower looks and smells as delicious as its fried meat counterpart. Make it even more enticing with a side of low fat bleu cheese and celery sticks.  It’s so easy that you can toss it in the oven at kick off, and it will be ready half-way through the first quarter.     

Buffalo Cauliflower

About this blog
The Healthy Kids blog is your window into the latest news, research and advice around children's health. Learn more about our growing list of contributors here.

If you have questions about your child's health, ask them here.

Anna Nguyen Healthy Kids blog Editor
Stephen Aronoff, M.D., M.B.A. Temple University Hospital
Christopher C. Chang, M.D., Ph.D Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Mario Cruz, M.D St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Drexel University College of Medicine
Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D. Lead Psychologist - The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic, CHOP
Gary A. Emmett, M.D. Director of Hospital Pediatrics at TJU Hospital & Pediatrics Professor at Thomas Jefferson Univ.
Lauren Falini Bariatric exercise physiologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
Hazel Guinto-Ocampo, M.D. Nemours duPont Pediatrics/Bryn Mawr Hospital
Rima Himelstein, M.D. Crozer-Keystone Health System
Anita Kulick President & CEO, Educating Communities for Parenting
Janet Rosenzweig, MS, PhD, MPA VP for Programs & Research for Prevent Child Abuse America
Beth Wallace Smith, RD Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
W. Douglas Tynan, Ph.D. Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Jefferson Medical Colg
Flaura Koplin Winston, MD, PhD Scientific Director of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected