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Question
Posted by: Sarah | 2010-01-19

Goodies for children

Dear Dietdoc:

Congratulations on this wonderful website. I' ve just been introduced to it, and I really admire you for your empathy and patience with all the diet-related questions!

Now I would like to make use of the opportunity too:
I have a daugther of 8 and a son of 13. My son is a keen sportsman and very active, and is small for his age and very slender. My daughter does ballet and loves swimming, is tall for her age and is slightly overweight. Both of them love chips (crisps) and sweets. Up till now I only allowed them to eat chips, sweets, cakes over the weekend, but of late I realised that it does not really make sense to forbid something during the week, just to open the floodgates over the weekend. (I do not allow any sodas - coke, fanta, etc - at home, they are treats whenever we infrequently go to a restaurant. Their snackboxes for school are usually: sandwich with jam and cheese (sometimes banana bread with just margarine)  a few almonds (or occasionally a small stick of droee wors), a fruit.

My question is twofold: firstly, how much should their energy intake be (in kilojoules) per day, and secondly, could I, for example, let them put together a goodies bag for the whole week (and when it' s empty, it' s empty and will not be filled again till the next week)? If so, what would be reasonable and healthy for a week (eg. x nr of packet of chips, x nr of jelly beans, etc).

Your response would be appreciated.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Sarah
Thank you for your very kind words, they make my day! It is indeed a problem that children love chips or crisps and sweets, but who can blame them when these snack foods have been specifically designed to cause a state of semi-addiction because they contain high levels of fat and sugar which are nutrients that humans crave (due to centuries, if not millennia of scarcity). The alluring tastes also contribute to getting us hooked at an early age. Then there is the problem of peer pressure - if all their friends are eating these forbidden delights, it is very difficult for children to resist the allure of high-fat and high-sugar snacks. Basically I think your children are old enough for you to sit down and discuss the problem of snack foods with them. Ask them how they think they can control their intake to prevent unwanted weight gain, salt overload and tooth decay. If they can agree out of their own volition to limit their snacks (only on weekends, or only when you go out or only twice a week) then this would be a very positive step in their development. They would take responsibility for controlling how many snacks they eat. It's worth a try. Stick to your prohibition on sweetened cold drinks, as the intake of liquid sugary drinks and even excessive intake of fruit juices, have been associated with the increase in obesity in children and teenagers to a greater degree than solid sweetened foods.
According to international tables, 8-year-old boys require approx. 4600 kJ per day and 11-year-old girls 5400 kJ per day. I think that you could provide slightly more kJ for your son who is slender and very active and slightly less for your daughter who tends to be a bit overweight. I would also recommend that you read the articles on 'Diets for schoolchildren' and 'Healthy lunch boxes' which you can access by clicking on 'Diet' at the top of this page and then on 'DietDoc's articles' and check out the articles on child nutrition. Healthy snacks and lunch box items include low-fat, yoghurt, flavoured low-fat milk, fresh and dried fruit, wholewheat or brown bread sandwiches, small portions of nuts or lean biltong (droë wors is very high in fat), high-bran muffins, cottage cheese and fresh vegetables like carrots, baby tomatoes, and any other veg your children like.
I hope this helps
I hope this helps
Best regards
DietDoc

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1
Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2010-01-19

Dear Sarah
Thank you for your very kind words, they make my day! It is indeed a problem that children love chips or crisps and sweets, but who can blame them when these snack foods have been specifically designed to cause a state of semi-addiction because they contain high levels of fat and sugar which are nutrients that humans crave (due to centuries, if not millennia of scarcity). The alluring tastes also contribute to getting us hooked at an early age. Then there is the problem of peer pressure - if all their friends are eating these forbidden delights, it is very difficult for children to resist the allure of high-fat and high-sugar snacks. Basically I think your children are old enough for you to sit down and discuss the problem of snack foods with them. Ask them how they think they can control their intake to prevent unwanted weight gain, salt overload and tooth decay. If they can agree out of their own volition to limit their snacks (only on weekends, or only when you go out or only twice a week) then this would be a very positive step in their development. They would take responsibility for controlling how many snacks they eat. It's worth a try. Stick to your prohibition on sweetened cold drinks, as the intake of liquid sugary drinks and even excessive intake of fruit juices, have been associated with the increase in obesity in children and teenagers to a greater degree than solid sweetened foods.
According to international tables, 8-year-old boys require approx. 4600 kJ per day and 11-year-old girls 5400 kJ per day. I think that you could provide slightly more kJ for your son who is slender and very active and slightly less for your daughter who tends to be a bit overweight. I would also recommend that you read the articles on 'Diets for schoolchildren' and 'Healthy lunch boxes' which you can access by clicking on 'Diet' at the top of this page and then on 'DietDoc's articles' and check out the articles on child nutrition. Healthy snacks and lunch box items include low-fat, yoghurt, flavoured low-fat milk, fresh and dried fruit, wholewheat or brown bread sandwiches, small portions of nuts or lean biltong (droë wors is very high in fat), high-bran muffins, cottage cheese and fresh vegetables like carrots, baby tomatoes, and any other veg your children like.
I hope this helps
I hope this helps
Best regards
DietDoc

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