Background Influence

Access: nutritious foods

Parent construct: Physical environment

Children need a good diet of grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables – and a guarantee that they are receiving the vitamins and the nutrients that their growing bodies and developing brains need to thrive. They can be encouraged to eat a variety of foods, and to make healthy choices when two or more different foods are available. Poor nutrition affects children’s cognitive and emotional development.1 2 3 4 5 One nutrient that few kids get enough of is Omega 3. Omega 3 is contained in fish and can be obtained through supplements (pills). Compared with 50 years ago, the American diet has much less omega-3 and too much omega-6 (found in junk food and fast food) than it did, especially compared with other countries.6 Grandmotherly and motherly wisdom 50-100 years ago was right about children taking cod-liver oil—high in both omega 3 and vitamin D.7 Less omega-3 and too much omega-6 is one reason that rates of depression and obesity are rising in this country.6 8 Major reductions in young children’s TV viewing in general and in their bedrooms stops their begging for foods high in omega-6 and low in omega-3, reduces obesity, improves their health, and improves in academic success.9 10 11 12 13 Parents also save money when their children eat better.

Early Childhood

Nutrition

Children need a good diet of grains, protein, fruits, and vegetables–and a guarantee that they are receiving the vitamins and the nutrients that their growing bodies and developing brains need to thrive. They can be encouraged to eat a variety of foods, and to make healthy choices when two or more different foods are available. Poor nutrition affects children’s cognitive and emotional development.11 12 13 Few kids get enough Omega 3, which is in fish and can be obtained through supplements (pills). Compared with 50 years ago, the American diet has much less Omega 3 and too much Omega 6 (found in junk food and fast food) than it did, especially compared to other countries. Grandmotherly and motherly wisdom 50-100 years ago was right about children taking cod-liver oil—high in both Omega 3 and vitamin D. Less Omega-3 and too much Omega-6 is one reason that rates of depression and obesity are rising in this country. Major reductions in young children’s TV viewing in general and in their bedrooms in particular stops their begging for foods high in Omega-6 and low in Omega-3, reduces obesity, improves their health, and improves academic success. Parents also save money when children eat better.

Access to food

Studies of access to nutritious foods show some evidence that making fruits and vegetables more readily available in neighborhoods where they have been hard to get can improve people's diet. However, there is stronger evidence about the availability of fast food. In neighborhoods where fast food is readily available, people have more problems with obesity-which contributes to diabetes and heart disease.

Related Interventions

Policies

Kernels

References


  1. Hibbeln J, Davis JM, Steer C, Emmett P, Rogers I, Williams C, et al. Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. The Lancet 2007;369(9561):578-85.  

  2. Whalley LJ, Fox HC, Wahle KW, Starr JM, Deary IJ. Cognitive aging, childhood intelligence, and the use of food supplements: possible involvement of n-3 fatty acids. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004;80(6):1650-7.  

  3. Remans PH, Sont JK, Wagenaar LW, Wouters-Wesseling W, Zuijderduin WM, Jongma A, et al. Nutrient supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids and micronutrients in rheumatoid arthritis: clinical and biochemical effects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004;58(6):839-45.  

  4. Liu J, Raine A, Venables PH, Dalais C, Mednick SA. Malnutrition at age 3 years and lower cognitive ability at age 11 years: independence from psychosocial adversity. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 2003;157(6):593-600.  

  5. Helland IB, Smith L, Saarem K, Saugstad OD, Drevon CA. Maternal supplementation with very-long-chain n-3 fatty acids during pregnancy and lactation augments children's IQ at 4 years of age. Pediatrics 2003;111(1):e39-44.  

  6. Hibbeln JR, Nieminen LR, Blasbalg TL, Riggs JA, Lands WE. Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006;83(6 Suppl):1483S-93S.  

  7. Griffing GT. Mother was right about cod liver oil. Medscape J Med 2008;10(1):8.  

  8. Freeman MP, Hibbeln JR, Wisner KL, Davis JM, Mischoulon D, Peet M, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids: evidence basis for treatment and future research in psychiatry. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 2006;67(12):1954-67.  

  9. Coon KA, Goldberg J, Rogers BL, Tucker KL. Relationships between use of television during meals and children's food consumption patterns. Pediatrics 2001;107(1):E7.  

  10. Coon KA, Tucker KL. Television and children's consumption patterns. A review of the literature. Minerva Pediatr 2002;54(5):423-36.  

  11. Greenberg BS, Rosaen SF, Worrell TR, Salmon CT, Volkman JE. A portrait of food and drink in commercial TV series. Health Commun 2009;24(4):295-303.  

  12. Adachi-Mejia AM, Longacre MR, Gibson JJ, Beach ML, Titus-Ernstoff LT, Dalton MA. Children with a TV in their bedroom at higher risk for being overweight. International Journal of Obesity 2007;31(4):644-51.  

  13. Wright JC, Huston AC, Murphy KC, St Peters M, Pinon M, Scantlin R, et al. The relations of early television viewing to school readiness and vocabulary of children from low-income families: the early window project. Child Development 2001;72(5):1347-66.