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How soft drinks and junk food affect children’s health?

By Deepti Acharya

Childhood is rightly referred to as the golden period of one’s life. Children are always bubbling with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. Most parents tend to give a lot of importance to their child’s academic, co-curricular and behavioral development, yet often forget the importance of health and nutrition. Eating healthy and balanced diets are highly important for children’s adequate growth. Keeping children away from fizzy soft drinks and junk food is the need of the hour as both these food types can be detrimental to their physical, social and psychological well being. Let us look into how such foods affect different aspects of health.

Impact on physical health

Fast foods and aerated drinks directly affect a child’s bodily functions. The high fat and high sugar contents in these foods can cause numerous health disorders. There is an optimum amount of calories that children require on a daily basis, but the saturated fats and complex sugars in snacks and canned drinks lead to a calorie surplus, in turn, causing weight gain. Kids can further develop several nutritional deficiencies owing to the lack of lack of vital nutrients compared to fruits, vegetables, and home-cooked meals. Lack of iron can cause anemia and stunted growth. So, children who consume excessive sodas and oily snacks just get fat and bulkier without any power or strength.

Overweight children are more prone to other serious health problems. The saturated fats clog arteries, increasing the cholesterol concentration in the blood giving birth to various heart conditions. It is significant to understand that obesity is not merely about how you look, but also about how fit and strong you are.

The caffeine in the sodas effects behavior and sleep patterns. It can get problematic to digest the sugars in sweet drinks which is why children may face loose bowel actions and diarrhea. In other cases where the diet lacks fiber constipation is the most common issue. The acids in such foods can cause harmful peptic ulcers. They will suffer from small appetite, poor metabolism and become liable to eating disorders.

Impact on Mental health

People always focus on the physiological ill effects of junk foods and sugary drinks forgetting about how much they affect children’s mental fitness and psychological makeup. Junk food makes children happy. Thus, frequent indulgers form a compound relationship or association with fast food and will be unable to find the same happiness through healthy foods. Overall poor diet due can cause mood swings, anxiety, and early depression.

Children who have fizzy drinks more than four to five times a day are likely to be more violent and aggressive towards their friends and family.

How to cut down on junk food and soft drinks?

It still isn’t too late to change your child’s food habits and replace them with healthier and beneficial options. Everything begins and ends at home, so the first step would be to stop stacking up these foods at home and making them into occasional celebratory treats. If you assumed that packed fruit juices, cordials, vitamin flavored waters, sports and energy drinks are healthy, they clearly aren’t. They are loaded with refined carbs, sugars, preservatives, and other artificial additives. Instead, teach kids about the benefits of clean eating and encourage them to eat more unprocessed foods and natural fruits and vegetables. If they still insist on drinking soft drinks, go for a nonsugary option and blend some fruits in a juicer and pour it out into a decorative tumbler to make it look appealing so that your children will be attracted to drink it. Parents ignore the vitality of milk in the diet, so fizzy beverages can be replaced with nourishing low fat or nonfat milk.

Variety is the key, otherwise, today’s children get bored with eating the same thing every day. Come up with interesting and fun healthy snack recipe ideas, and incorporate fruits and veggies of different colors, shapes and sizes into meals. Replace fries and chips with unbuttered popcorn. Highlight the role of water for hydration in place of sodas. Make sure the plate is complete with all types of nutrients so that they feel full and satiated and wouldn’t crave for junk food and sweets.

Healthy eating is stressed upon not just for external appearance and aesthetic attributes. Children’s eating habits and lifestyle choices when young greatly determine their future health and likelihood of onset of diseases. By including healthy diet now you are paving way for an enriching and satisfying adult life. On the other hand, unhealthy practices can only yield regrets later. So take a small step today and start enforcing a healthy tomorrow upon your children.

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