Have You Ever Wondered

. . . if foods grown with pesticides are safe for kids? With more than a hundred required tests directly relevant to children and infants, there's no evidence that children are being harmed from pesticide residues in food, water, or the environment. Any residue is hundreds to thousands of times lower than what might potentially pose a health risk. The safety evaluation takes children's diets, body weight, and rapid growth into account. And the Food Quality Assurance Act of 1996 includes additional provisions aimed at protecting children from pesticides. The health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far outweigh any potential risk.

As a precaution, rinse vegetables to remove any residues. For more about foods grown with pesticides, see "Pesticides: Carefully Controlled" in chapter 9.

... if lead in drinking water is harmful to children? Infants and children are at higher risk for lead poisoning than others. Among other problems, lead that builds up in the body over time can cause brain damage. Health experts advise that children get screened at ages one and two, perhaps more often if there's a risk. For more about screening and addressing lead in drinking water, see "Get the Lead Out!" in chapter 8.

get rewarding or punishing a child with food. In that way you won't reinforce an emotional link to eating.

  • Stock your kitchen with lower-calorie snack choices such as raw vegetables, fruit, milk, or vanilla wafers. Instead of heavy snacking, meals should provide most of your child's nutrients and food energy.
  • Avoid labeling food as "good" or "bad." Instead, help your child see how any food can fit in a healthful eating pattern. Even kids who need to reduce body fat can have an occasional cookie or a piece of candy. In fact, they probably need a high-calorie snack from time to time to meet their energy needs. Anyway, the body doesn't see food in black-and-white terms. It's the whole eating plan that counts.
  • Store food out of sight; be careful about bringing a lot of higher-calorie foods into the house. When food sits on the kitchen counter, grabbing a cookie or chips may be more habit than hunger. For many people— kids, too—just seeing food stimulates the appetite.
  • Set time limits on watching television—no more than one or two hours daily of total media time, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Limit video games and computer time, too. All three keep kids away from active play. Children who watch four or more hours of television a day are twice as likely to be overweight as youngsters who don't.
  • For everyone: eat only in the kitchen or dining room. Kids probably won't eat as much—and they'll be more conscious about eating. High-calorie snacks may go along with TV watching or homework.
  • Refrain from eating meals in front of the TV It's easy to eat more when attention is shifted away from the meal and satiety cues, and instead to a TV show.
  • Talk to your child about his or her feelings. Observe emotions and subsequent behavior. Together look for ways other than eating to address emotions. Help your child understand: even though eating may feel good for a while, food can't solve problems!
  • Be aware: kids may say they're hungry when they're bored or want attention. Probe a little. Offer a snack, perhaps a cracker or an apple. If neither appeals, the child is probably bored, not hungry.

Consider this advice about childhood weight issues, even if your child's weight seems healthy: see

"Obesity and Kids: A Heavy Burden" in chapter 2.

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