Preschoolers Need to Be Taught to Eat Healthy

In TurboCharged, the Griesels reveal just how harmful sugar, fat and salt combinations really are, and why they are undoubtedly linked to the obesity epidemic.

A new research study concludes that a child's taste preferences are forged at home and most often involve salt, sugar and fat. Moreover, young kids learn quickly what brands deliver the goods. In the journal Appetite, T. Bettina Cornwell of the University of Oregon and Anna R. McAlister of the University of Wisconsin report on their study of preschoolers ages 3 to 5, determining that salt, sugar and fat are what most kids prefer, and that they could already match their preferences to brand-name fast food and soda.

"The fact is, taste preferences may even begin in the womb, based on the mother's diet," says Tom Griesel, who with his sister Dian Griesel, Ph.D., is the co-author of Turbocharged, a rapid fat-loss and wellness book due for release in mid-March. "The sense of taste develops at the prenatal stage; at 7 to 8 weeks' gestation, taste buds start emerging. After birth, infants show a preference for sweet tastes. There are four different types of taste: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Most infants have a liking for sweet food items and dislike those with a sour taste, possibly because breast milk and formula taste sweet. A baby may need to try something as many as 20 times to develop a particular taste. So time, patience and good choices are required to develop proper taste preferences in babies."

"At ages 3 to 5, there is no doubt that the ability to match specific tastes to fast food and soda comes from parental and TV influence," adds Dian Griesel. "Parents expose their children to all sorts of harmful junk food early on without even realizing it, without any thought, or perhaps they just don't care. TV advertisers, on the other hand, know exactly what they are doing. Most TV viewing is a very bad influence on children."

In TurboCharged, the Griesels reveal just how harmful sugar, fat and salt combinations really are, and why they are undoubtedly linked to the obesity epidemic. All junk foods contain this combination, they say; fast food pushers know the power of this preference, as well as how to advertise and package sugar, fat and salt to efficiently and persuasively sell them to the masses.

"Parents need to know how harmful these foods are," notes Dian. "They should set the proper example for their children as early as possible. Even young children can't be fooled if their parents continue to eat this stuff. It is not genetics or heredity that is responsible for fat families and the obesity epidemic. The root cause is training in improper food choices that continue to be passed on in families and our society as a whole."

In the research study, 67 children and their mothers were recruited from preschool classes in a large city. The mothers completed a 21-item survey to report on the taste preferences of their children. The children responded to their perceived tastiness of 11 natural and 11 flavor-added foods. The photos of the foods were presented without labeling or packaging. Researchers found strong agreement in that both parental and children's perceptions matched: Parents noted the desire for foods high in sugar, fat and salt, while their children showed preference for flavor-added foods, which contained these ingredients. "This finding is no surprise," says Tom. "Our taste buds quickly become dulled by these intensely engineered foods so that natural healthy foods seem less desirable."

In a second experiment, the researchers explored the association of preschoolers' palate preferences to their emerging awareness of brands of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Participating were 108 children from five urban pre-schools. Each child was shown 36 randomly sorted cards-12 related to each of two popular fast-food chains, six to each of the two leading cola companies and six depicting irrelevant products. All children were able to correctly place some of the product cards with the correct companies, indicating their differing levels of brand recognition. "This provides a perfect example of how sophisticated fast food and snack companies are, as well as how their advertisers are targeting children," Dian says. "Our children are trained at an early age to recognize not only aggressive tastes but also learn to connect them with the companies or packaging selling them."

The study results, the researchers wrote, suggest that fast food and soda brand knowledge is linked to the development of a preference for sugar, fat and salt in food. The relationships, they added, appeared to reflect the children's emotional experiences in a way that says the brand-named products deliver their developed taste preferences. "This is the objective of fast food companies and their marketing people," notes Tom. "They know exactly what they are doing and are always getting better at it. They are not interested in health, obesity or well-being. They are only interested in selling their products."

"Once again, it is the responsibility of parents to safeguard their children with proper nutritional training from an early age and limiting exposure to TV advertising," Dian says. "Even regular TV shows often promote products within the show, so viewer discretion is required and advised. Fast/junk food manufacturers don't give a hoot about the health of our children-or adults. Advertising targeting children should be monitored and regulated, but the ultimate responsibility still resides with parents."

The TurboCharged diet outlines a fresh approach to weight loss. Requiring no supplements or special equipment, its eight steps train you to burn excess body fat, eat intelligently, maintain or increase lean body fat and metabolism, and add activity to your schedule.

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Categories: Parenting

Tags: bodies, Children, Diabetes, food, Health, Infants, mothers, Nutrition, parenting, weight gain

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