Fact File: Junk Food

by Parents for Health Team on June 27, 2011

junk food in supermarkets

Junk food is cheap to produce, has a long shelf-life, is easy to transport and is highly profitable. This picture shows how junk food is promoted even in the fruit section of the supermarket!

When your child demands crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks, it can be hard to say no. If your child isn’t overweight, junk food isn’t really a problem, is it? Think again!

What is “Junk Food”?

Foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar and low in other nutrients. Some Examples of junk food include:

  • Sweets (high in sugar)
  • Crisps (high in fat and salt)
  • Fizzy drinks (high in sugar/artificial sweeteners)

Junk food …foods that have little or no nutritional value, considered unhealthy to consume. (source: Wikipedia)

Junk Food & Children

When a child eats junk food regularly, they are developing unhealthy dietary habits that increase their likelihood of developing serious illness in later life. A diet that is full of sugar and fat increases risk for a range of illnesses, including childhood obesityheart disease, stroke and certain cancers.

“My Child Isn’t Overweight, So We Don’t Have A Problem”

Wrong! Just because your child is a healthy weight now doesn’t mean that they will stay that way. If they develop unhealthy eating habits in childhood, they are far more likely to have a weight problem when they are adults.

People who don’t eat a balanced diet have an increased risk for a range of chronic illnesses, whether or not they are overweight. Being overweight just adds to the health problems!

If your child is a junk food addict, you need to act.

The “No-Water” Kid

Junk beverages like fizzy drinks (e.g. Coke, Pepsi, Fanta etc) have become the norm for many kids. We have worked with children who drink nothing but Coca-Cola. This is worrying – regular consumption of fizzy drinks has a number of negative effects on health.

The Bottom Line

If your children eat junk foods on a daily basis, you should make some changes.

Take control of the situation – stop buying junk food, and provide your children with healthier options instead. Tell family, friends and childminders that junk food is not allowed. Your kids might cause a fuss at the start, but you’ll be doing them a favour and they’ll thank you in the long run!

How do you react if your child demands sweets or if a friend or relative gives them junk food? We would love to hear about your junk food tales -please leave a comment below.

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